Ireland’s Equalities and Integration Minister has revealed that the Government intends to bring forward its proposed ‘conversion therapy’ ban “shortly”.
Responding to Social Democrats TD Jennifer Whitmore about the status of the proposals, Roderic O’Gorman confirmed that the ban “is a priority for Government this year”.
He stated that it would be informed by “international best practice” and research such as the Government commissioned report by Trinity College Dublin — even though it revealed that little or no evidence of ‘conversion therapy’ had been found in the country.
The Christian Institute’s Ciarán Kelly said: “People should of course be protected from physical and verbal abuse, but these practices are already illegal.
“The Irish Government would do well to apply the law as it stands and if genuine loopholes exist close them. But it should steer clear of the sort of totalitarian ban seen in the Australian state of Victoria that criminalises parents and the ordinary work of churches.”
Victoria’s ban, which came into force last year, criminalises prayer if it is deemed not to support a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The penalty can be up to ten years in prison and a maximum fine of over £100,000.
Following publication of Trinity College Dublin’s report into conversion therapy practices earlier this year, the Government claimed it provided “an insight into how conversion therapy practices operate in Ireland” and would “inform legislation”.
But the academics behind the report admitted they “were unsuccessful in finding any research literature that was published in Ireland” on the issue, while their survey found that fewer than one in twelve respondents claimed to have been subject to some form of conversion practice in the last 30 years.
The authors also admitted that the survey sample was not statistically representative of the LGBT community and was too small for any meaningful conclusions to be drawn.
Last month in the UK, Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch offered reassurances that the Government’s ban on so-called conversion therapy would not criminalise parents for questioning their child’s gender confusion.
Mrs Badenoch pledged that the ban would not prevent parents, religious leaders, teachers or health professionals from having “exploratory or even challenging conversations” with young people about ‘gender identity’.
The Government is expected to publish its draft Bill on so-called conversion therapy for gay and transgender people soon.