Section 1 – What are your views on the action called for in the petition?
Providing or promoting conversion therapy for gender identity and/or sexual orientation should be made illegal in Scotland.
Any form of treatment or therapy which seeks to change a person’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity is abusive, dangerous, harmful, and unethical.
Even though the major related professional bodies have recognised conversion therapy as harmful and unethical, LGBTQIA+ people in Scotland and the UK are still being pressured to access services to change their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, to their great harm.
According to research by Stonewall, up to 20% of LGBTQIA+ people – especially those ages 18-24; who are Black, Asian, and minority ethnicity; who are disabled; and who are trans – have been pressured to access conversion therapy when they have accessed health care services. (Source: https://www.stonewall.org.uk/campaign-groups/conversion-therapy)
People who engage in conversion therapy, even with supposed consent, have higher rates of poor mental and physical health and are more likely to die. This is not a “difference of opinion”; this is a danger to marginalised people’s health and lives.
The fact that conversion therapy for sexual orientation and/or gender identity is not offered to people who are heterosexual or who identify with the gender they were assigned at birth (ie, are cisgender) indicates that conversion therapy is rooted in anti-LGBTQIA+ discrimination.
As counsellors and psychotherapists, the members of the Association of Neurodivergent Therapists often work with clients who have experienced pressure to change their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, or who have been subjected to or participated in conversion therapy. We also often work with clients whose loved ones have experienced pressure to change their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, or who have been subjected to or participated in conversion therapy.
We are intimately acquainted with the harm these practices cause and we call on the Scottish Government to enact a legal ban on the promotion and provision of all forms of conversion therapy in order to protect everyone in Scotland.
We support the following action items:
* A comprehensive ban on the promotion and provision of conversion therapy, accompanied by support to survivors and communities impacted by these practices, as both necessary and urgent.
* That the ban include all forms of conversion therapy on the basis of sexuality or gender identity without exception. A ban must apply to all public and private settings in which conversion therapy takes place, including faith-based, medical, traditional, domestic, and cultural settings, and must not include an exemption for those who “consented” to the practice.
* The Scottish Government should act immediately to ban conversion therapy, without waiting for Westminster, to prevent further harm.
Section 2 – What action would you like to see the Scottish Government take?
* The implementation of a criminal ban on the promotion, provision, causing of a person to undergo conversion therapy or removing a person from the UK to undergo conversion therapy abroad.
* Training on safeguarding and awareness in the public health service and private healthcare providers, and the establishment of an anonymous reporting system.
* Outreach and engagement with religious and community leaders including training to explain the impact of certain teachings on LGBTQIA+ members of their communities.
* Outreach and support for survivors and communities affected by conversion therapy.
Section 3 – Do you have suggestions on how the Committee can take forward its consideration of the petition (e.g. who should it talk to and hear from)?
* Survivors and those who have come to harm through conversion therapy should be at the forefront of any decision making.
* LGBTQIA+ rights groups and mental health experts should also be invited to provide evidence and inform the committee on the best approach to supporting survivors.
* Legal expertise from those with experience in implementing Scottish law in similar areas, for example in domestic abuse, hate crime, and coercive control legislation should be considered to examine the possible application and impact of a criminal ban.