A Government Minister has said there is a need to investigate whether “there is an issue” with so-called conversion therapy in the Republic of Ireland, before bringing in a ban.
Roderic O’Gorman told parliament that research commissioned by the Department for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth will canvass the views of anyone claiming to have experienced the practice.
When the Republic’s new Coalition Government was formed in 2020, it pledged to: “Legislate to ban conversion therapy.”
According to minutes from a Strategy Steering Committee meeting on LGBT inclusion last year, the Minister said that “research was an important step in the design of the legislation”.
The minutes record the Minister noting “the qualitative angle” was very important, “but there also needs to be an evidence [sic] that ‘there is an issue here’”.
A spokesman for the UK-based campaign Let Us Pray said “You would expect everyone to agree with the need to find evidence of an actual problem before bringing in a ban. Yet in the same meeting, one activist commented: ‘If nobody had experienced it, it should still be banned.’ So much for evidence-based policy. We need robust, in-depth research before we start criminalising people.
“And the claims of those calling for a ban must be scrutinised thoroughly. It may get good results on social media to unquestioningly accept the most extreme voices, but the unintended consequences of an over-broad ban would be devastating for families and churches.”
In December, O’Gorman told the Dáil: he expected research to “be commissioned and begin early in 2022”.
In the UK, the Government’s consultation on a proposed conversion therapy ban has been extended until 4 February 2022.
Current proposals risk criminalising parents and ordinary church activities, including preaching, prayer and pastoral care.