Scots Equalities Committee demands ‘conversion therapy’ ban include traditional Christian views

The Scottish Parliament’s Equalities Committee is calling for “the most extreme legislation on conversion therapy in the Western world”, The Christian Institute has said.

In a report published today, the Committee recommended that religious teaching, prayer or other speech aimed at groups or individuals which does not affirm their view of gender or sexuality should be criminalised.

The Committee also calls controversial legislation in Victoria, Australia, which expressly bans prayer, “one of the best practice examples” of an effective conversion therapy ban.


The 45-page report states that “ordinary religious teaching or the right of people to take part in prayer or pastoral care to discuss, explore or come to terms with their identity” should only be permitted if conducted in a “non-judgmental and non-directive way”.

Claiming that “most conversion practices take place within a religious setting” it then “recommends that such practices should fall within a ban.”

The Committee also indicated that religious communities be ‘re-educated’ to accept the Committee’s views on LGBT issues, saying that such education “is crucial to promote acceptance of diversity”.


Simon Calvert, Deputy Director for Public Affairs at The Christian Institute, said: “If Scotland were to implement all the demands of this report we would end up with the most extreme legislation on conversion therapy in the Western world.

“Everyone understands that there have been abuses in the past and no-one defends that. But MSPs on the Committee have made no effort to approach this in a balanced, human rights compliant way and as a result their recommendations are unbalanced and, frankly, repressive.

the most extreme legislation on conversion therapy in the Western world

“We can all agree that people should not be coerced. But these proposals don’t target coercion. They target conversations based on beliefs and individual viewpoints.”

‘Non-directive conversations’

He continued: “The Committee wants a ban on seeking to ‘suppress an individual’s expression of sexual orientation or gender identity’ on the basis that ‘any sexual orientation or gender identity is inherently preferable to any other’. Christians believe in showing gentleness to all and reject the description of their beliefs and practices as forms of ‘suppression’.

“But you can easily see how gently teaching a trans-identifying young person that God made us male and female could be viewed as ‘seeking to suppress’ their expression of gender identity. And explaining to a gay friend the Church’s traditional teaching that sex should only take place within man-woman marriage could be deemed an attempt to suppress their expression of sexual orientation.

“The idea that only non-directive conversations about sex and sexuality should be legal would be laughable were it not so serious. Everyone has opinions on these things. Christian parents talking to their kids are going to be pretty clear when it comes to sexual behaviour. Isn’t that ‘directive’?

“You can expect your therapist to be non-directive. But anyone who has spent more than five minutes with a church leader knows they will have something to say about the direction of your life. That’s their job. You can’t make it illegal where it involves sex and sexuality.”

Parents and children

The report also targets church teachings about sin and repentance, as well as churches’ attempts to uphold those teachings, but Mr Calvert explained: “Teaching a church member that sex outside of marriage is a sin and praying with them, at their request, that God would give them grace to resist temptation will be viewed by some as seeking to suppress sexual orientation.

“But this is what churches do in relation to all kind of temptations, not just those relating to sex. It’s an expression of religion that is protected by equality and human rights law and the Parliament can’t outlaw it.

“It seems the Committee also wants to outlaw conversations with gender confused kids if they suggest that one gender identity is ‘inherently preferable’.

“Feminist mums whose daughters say they are trans are going to be pretty clear that embracing their identity as women is ‘inherently preferable’ to identifying as a trans man. You cannot legislate in a way which jeopardises the mum’s human right to have that conversation with her own daughter.”

More on Conversion Therapy:

Tory MPs fear ‘rushed’ conversion therapy ban puts parents and teachers at risk

Why the proposed conversion therapy ban is potentially dangerous for the work of churches

‘Activists’ demands on conversion therapy could criminalise the Gospel’

Al Mohler: Rising spectre of ‘conversion therapy’ bans threatens Gospel freedom

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