Ireland and UK urged to make ‘swift progress’ on banning conversion therapy

Ireland and UK urged to make 'swift progress' on banning conversion therapy

Dunja Mijatović

The Irish and UK governments have been urged by Europe’s human rights commissioner to make “swift progress” on plans to ban so-called conversion therapy for LGBT+ people.

Dunja Mijatović, the Council of Europe commissioner for human rights, said the “insidious nature” of conversion therapies can have “devastating” impacts on the individuals subjected to them.

Conversion therapy purports to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or expression (SOGIE) when it does not conform to the perceived dominant norm.

Ms Mijatović noted that a number of European countries have instituted bans of various kinds since 2016 and welcomed the consideration of bans in Ireland and the UK as well as Belgium, Cyprus, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Switzerland.

However, she added: “Despite a clear positive momentum, I am aware that progress is not straightforward, and some proposed bans have stalled.

“I recently highlighted the fact that, in the UK, the process of adopting a ban on SOGIE conversion practices has been marred by discussions about excluding trans people from it.

“As stressed in the report of my visit to the UK in June-July 2022, all victims suffer equally from conversion practices and excluding trans people would be harmful and discriminatory. As such, I welcome the UK government’s recent announcement that the ban it is working on would include them.”

In today’s statement, Ms Mijatović went on to say that legal bans “are an essential first step, but they, alone, are unlikely to effectively put an end to these practices” and called on member states to adopt a “comprehensive, human rights-based approach” to end the practices.

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