Scotland publishes plans to ban 'conversion therapy'

The proposed legislation would criminalise any attempts to change or suppress the gender identity or sexual orientation of another person.

Photo of large crowd of people gathering in Scotland carrying Pride flags supporting the proposed conversion therapy ban
Image: X @ECTScotland

On Tuesday, January 9, Scotland’s government published a proposal to ban so-called ‘conversion therapy’ practices in the country.

The proposed 86-page legislation would end conversion practices in Scotland and criminalise attempts to change or suppress the gender identity or sexual orientation of another person.

While the UK public continues to await progress on the 2018 promise to end conversion therapy, Scotland’s Equalities Minister Emma Roddick affirms that conversion therapy has no place in Scotland.

She described these practices as, “damaging and destructive acts that violate people’s human rights.” Roddick added, “In taking forward our commitment to ban conversion practices we are leading the way in the UK and joining the growing list of countries acting to address this harm.”


Scotland’s Expert Advisory Group on Ending Conversion Practices defines conversion practices as “any treatment, practice or effort that aims to change, suppress and/or eliminate a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression”.

These ineffective and harmful practices are often facilitated by faith-based “therapists” who want to force queer people to change their identities and use guilt and shame to inflict harm and exacerbate internalised homophobia and transphobia.

While LGBTQ+ community members and activists have celebrated the proposed ban, some religious groups have expressed concerns surrounding how it may apply to church counselling.

The Catholic Church of Scotland says it supports legislation that “protects people from physical and verbal abuse”, but does not want Scotland “to criminalise mainstream pastoral care, parental guidance, and medical or other professional intervention related to sexual orientation.”

Furthermore, one UK charity, the Christian Institute even warned that they are “prepared to go to court” over the proposed ban.


Government ministers are seeking feedback to influence the final outcome of the new legislation. Members of the general public are invited to share their opinions on the proposal via an online consultation until April 2.

If the legislation passes, Scotland will join other countries which have already introduced nationwide conversion therapy bans including Spain, France, Germany, New Zealand, Canada and Iceland.


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