Thank you for your email, and I appreciate the time you have taken to write to me.
Scottish Labour believe that conversion practice is cruel, undermines human rights and are committed to ending it. Attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity have no place in Scotland and should be banned as soon as possible.
The evidence that the Committee heard made clear that the majority of religious organisations are in favour of a ban on conversion practice. There is a need to scrutinise any legislation brought forward to ensure that pastoral support for people can continue within the law. Scottish Labour also agree that proposals should not pose restrictions on organisations to provide a safe space for discussion and exploration, provided it does not target a specific group or person with the express aim of changing, ‘correcting’ or suppressing their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Likewise a ban on conversion practice should not lead to a significant tightening of regulations for people who are practising psychiatry or counselling. Scottish Labour agrees that there is a need for the Scottish Government to publish further guidance and training on the type of therapies that are appropriate to provide clarity for the medical profession, within the context of any new legislation.
Following all the evidence heard, the Committee concluded that there should be no conflict between protecting religious freedoms and preventing harm by putting a ban in place. The senior legal advisor for the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief has suggested that rather than provide blanket exemptions for conversion practices in religious settings, safeguards should be included in the legislation to ensure that there are no unnecessary infringements on freedom of religion or belief.
Going forward, Scottish Labour agree that it is vital that a range of faith and belief organisations are involved in the development and progress of any legislation to protect both religious freedom and the human rights of LGBT people.
I hope that this information is helpful to you.