Scots activist taken to task over ‘baseless claims’ for new conversion practices law

Claims about the prevalence of ‘conversion practices’ in Scotland by a former member of the Scottish Government’s Expert Advisory Group on the issue have been thrown into doubt.

Blair Anderson, a Scottish Greens councillor who has been lobbying for a broad new law, claimed that many Scots are currently being subjected to so-called conversion therapy.

The Glasgow City councillor has repeatedly described ‘conversion therapy’ as a form of torture.

No reliable data

Responding to an article in The Sunday Times by Alex Massie, Anderson said: “Alex seems to suggest a ban ‘seems hardly worth bothering with’ as electroshock therapy is rare. Yet data shows 1000s of Scots undergoing conversion therapy. Had the ban been in place for me, I could have been spared years of harm.”

But journalist Susan Dalgety hit back: “Hi Blair, could you point to the data source which shows 1000s of Scots undergoing conversion therapy.

“The consultation document only highlights the self selecting 2017 UK wide LGBT survey and in 2021 the Scot Govt said it held no information on numbers. Thanks.”

In 2021, campaign group Sex Matters published its own critique of the much-cited 2017 survey. It concluded that even though it used a very broad definition of ‘conversion therapy’, “it is difficult to see the urgency of legislating against ‘conversion therapy’ in relation to gender identity without evidence that abusive practices are on the rise and not covered by existing legislation”.


Earlier this month, Anderson accused former SNP Cabinet Minister Fergus Ewing of promoting torture after he warned that Scottish Government plans to introduce a new law to ban so-called conversion practices could criminalise parents.

After Fergus Ewing MSP challenged Scottish Green Party Co-Leader Patrick Harvie for accusing him of supporting ‘abuse’, Anderson commented: “Fergus Ewing is supporting practices that amount to torture.

“Failure to ban conversion therapy is a green light for torture.”

Legal action

The Christian Institute has threatened the Scottish Government with court action if it goes ahead with a new law banning ‘conversion practices’.

As the SNP/Green coalition published its consultation on the plans earlier this month, the Institute’s 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 the new law to cover “casual conversations”, “gentle, non-coercive prayer”, and even “depending on your parents’ ‘consent’” to change gender.

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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