MSP accused of endorsing torture for saying ‘conversion practices’ law must not criminalise parents

A former SNP Cabinet Minister has hit back at accusations of ‘promoting torture’, after warning that the Scottish Government’s plans to ban so-called conversion practices could criminalise parents.

Fergus Ewing, the MSP for Inverness and Nairn who has held several ministerial roles, slammed Scottish Green Party Co-Leader Patrick Harvie for telling BBC’s Good Morning Scotland that he “supports the continuation of abusive and in some cases, practices that amount to torture”.

Ewing, who had outlined his concerns on the proposals in the Strathspey and Badenoch Herald before being attacked, said: “When a politician plays the man not the ball, it’s because he is losing the game.”


The former Cabinet Minister explained: “Many people in Scotland are concerned that a law, poorly drafted, on conversion therapy will almost inevitably impinge upon and interfere with parental rights. Governments do that at their peril.

“The churches have already spoken out on that. They have voiced the same concerns I have, and they speak for a great many in Scotland of many different religions and faiths.”

He added: “The notion that this role of loving advice from parents can possibly be criminalised is anathema to most people – certainly me.”

Social services

Writing in The Daily Mail, journalist Susan Dalgety reported on a case where parents were reported to social services for “unintentional emotional abuse” over their refusal to affirm their daughter’s belief that she is a boy.

Dalgety said: “If the Scottish Government’s new Bill on conversion therapy becomes law, parents in a similar situation could face a prison sentence for doing what every loving mother and father would do in these circumstances – try to persuade their child that they cannot change sex.”

Instead, she urged the Scottish Government to “examine the influence groups such as LGBT Youth Scotland have in our schools” and “support a review of the gender identity services offered at Glasgow’s Sandyford Clinic, similar to the Cass Review in England and Wales which led to the closure of the controversial Tavistock centre”.

Legal action

The Christian Institute has reiterated its threat of court action if the Scottish Government goes ahead with a new law banning so-called conversion practices.

As the SNP/Green coalition published its consultation on the plans, the Institute’s Deputy Director for Public Affairs Simon Calvert said the scheme threatened freedom of speech and could criminalise the conversations and opinions of parents and church leaders.

The Scottish Government wants to outlaw ‘practices’ that seek to change, suppress or inhibit someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Activists are campaigning for this to cover “casual conversations”, “gentle, non-coercive prayer”. They even say children should be able to change gender without their parents’ consent.

Also see:

Peer: ‘So-called conversion therapy is already banned’

Church leaders urge Scottish Government to drop planned ‘conversion therapy’ Bill

Jayne Ozanne: ‘Repentance unnecessary for salvation’

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