• Thu. May 30th, 2024

“Fundamentally illiberal”: Christian Institute threatens lawsuit over conversion practices ban

ByEllen Breen

Feb 23, 2024
LGBT flaf against a blue sky

The Christian Institute is preparing to take the Scottish Government to court over new legislation that would ban conversion practices in Scotland. 

Conversion practices are interventions that seek to alter or suppress someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Scottish government has opened a consultation on plans to ban conversion therapy in the country. 

Holyrood’s consultation on the ban calls the practices “damaging and destructive” and comes after the UN called for a global ban in 2020, saying they can cause long-lasting mental and physical damage.

Aidan O’Neill KC, a Scottish barrister endorsed by the Christian Institute, believes the ban “would be beyond the powers of the Scottish Parliament to legislate.”

According to him, the new legislation is “fundamentally illiberal in intent and would criminalise parents who seek to caution their children against seeking gender affirming care.”

He added that it would criminalise “open expression of such orthodox traditional religious beliefs,” for example that sex should be held between a heterosexual married couple. 

However, the Scottish government has stated there is “no serious risk,” of this occurring, and that they draw distinction between “general statements of belief or opinion” and practices of conversion therapy. 

According to the consultation details, proof of intent and proof of harm caused, whether physical or mental, would be required for a conviction. 

The ban, as explained by a spokesperson for the Scottish government, does “not prohibit parental and religious guidance that is not motivated by an intention to change or surpass their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Their approach, the spokesperson commented “fully respects the existing right to a private family life, and the freedoms of speech, religion and belief,” and that they are only looking to “protect LGBTQI+ people.” 

Emma Roddick, Minister for Equalities, told The Guardian that she wants the LGBTQ+ community to know that: “the Scottish government is still with them.” 

As a member of the community herself she has commentated on how important the issue is to her personally. 

The Catholic Church has released a statement criticising the proposals for their “worrying lack of clarity.”

The Christian Institute has announced it is preparing to take legal action if the ban moves forward. 

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