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Scotland’s ban on Conversion Therapy must not fall short

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THAT SCOTLAND WILL eventually ban so-called ‘conversion therapy’ seems to be academic at this point. As Holyrood’s Equalities, Human Rights, and Civil Justice Committee continues to hear stirring evidence, particularly that of Dr Igi Moon, in favour of outlawing this abhorrent practice, which purports to forcibly change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity, and all of Scotland and the UK’s political parties are already behind it, we can be pretty sure a ban is somewhere in the near future.

This is, on the surface, undoubtably a positive step.

Conversion therapy has been justifiably called torture and has never been shown to have any basis in medicine, therapeutic practice, philosophy, or any of the other academic disciplines on which the pinheads proposing it hang their tiny, pointed hats.

In fact, the only way it seems to cause fewer homosexuals, lesbians, bisexuals, or transgender people is that it dramatically increases the probably of them killing themselves or living a dismal life scarred by denying their nature and being unable to live authentically.

With one in 13 LGBTQ+ people across the UK, according to a UK Government survey, having been offered or had conversion therapy, the figure rises to one in seven for trans people specifically, the practice also presents a genuine threat to people whose only crime is trying to make their way in the world as themselves. Enough! Ban it now!

However, perhaps it’s because it’s part of my nature to look out for what may go wrong even when the intentions are at their most pure, I’m concerned that we may not go far enough to properly destroy the conversion therapy business. Heroin, pistols, and child pornography are also illegal but there appears to be a booming trade in those things too so what is needed is a ban so forceful and discouraging that these quacks, abusers, and bigots masquerading as carers (perhaps their biggest sin) are driven out and the burning embers of their bullshit cast after them.

Firstly, to make advocating, selling, or recruiting for conversion therapy illegal is not enough. If the result of being caught doing so is a simple fine or a little bit of community service then those who are invested in spreading this poison will simply go underground and continue to operate.

What is needed is a prison sentence so long, so punitive, and completely life-shattering that it will be threaten all the future prospects that person may have for the duration of their sorry existence. The message should be clear, if you attempt to ruin or endanger the life of an LGBTQ+ person, then the justice system will ruin yours by ensuring that much of it is glimpsed through a prison bar Instagram filter. And just to be clear, double it if they dare endanger a minor with it. We can’t afford to mess around with them especially.

I would go further. If someone is found to be selling this dangerous snake oil, then they ought to be placed on a publicly available register. One of the most pernicious things that these brutes do is operate undercover, where they think they cannot be seen, which, I don’t think I need to remind the educated readers of ThinkScotland, would be much more difficult to do when a quick search of a register of conversion therapy hucksters would expose them.

Once again, it’s about making sure that the punishment for setting out to purposely harm some of society’s most at risk individuals and, usually, doing so for money is as draconian as possible.

All of the above should also apply to anyone who attempts to advertise, whether overtly or surreptitiously, conversion therapy services or aids in the transportation of individuals, children especially, overseas to places with the purpose of subjecting them to this kind of torture.

This should also be followed by a campaign, targeted at LGBTQ+ people, helping to raise awareness of the dangers that still, regrettably, exist. While all the UK’s political parties support the ban, the specifics laid out in a recent motion passed by the recent UK Liberal Democrat conference are particularly clear in terms of what should, and must, happen to this cancerous activity.

Finally, legislators must heed the warnings of experts and equality campaigners and ensure that there is no wiggle room in the ban for manufactured consent or religious and philosophical caveats. ‘Consent’ to conversion therapy doesn’t really exist, in the true sense of the term. There are masses of anecdotes about people who have been pressured, extorted, and blackmailed into giving their apparent consent to taking part in conversion therapy programmes as a result of family, social, or religious pressure and, as anybody with even the most basic moral equipment can tell, that is not genuine consent in so far as I understand the term.

As for religious and philosophical opt-outs, objectors are free to think whatever they like but they must not be allowed to harm others with it, that much should be clear; as clear in fact as how harmful and hateful conversion therapy is.

Doing what is right is one thing, doing it the right way and in a way that works is quite another. I’m quite sure that there will be a ban on conversion therapy in Scotland before too long and that is wonderful. However, if we are to going to be the progressive nation that we so often fail to be, despite our self-image, then a simple ban will not be nearly enough.

Only a complete, total, far-reaching, and all-encompassing ban will protect future generations of LGBTQ+ people and help them live in a country that they can be assured is looking out for their best interests. If we can do this, without reservation, equivocation, or omission, then Scotland will be further down the road to becoming the safe place for LGBTQ+ people that all right-minded, compassionate, and accepting people want it to be. The only thing that can stop us is our own inaction – let’s get it done!

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Photo by nito from Adobe Stock

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