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'A deceptive practice': Bill to ban LGBTQ conversion therapies passes second stage of Seanad

The Prohibition of Conversion Therapies Bill 2018 has passed through its second stage in the Seanad and has further stages to go through.

Image: Daniel Leal-Olivas via PA Images

This article has been updated to reflect that the bill still has to pass through a number of legislative stages in the Seanad.

A BILL WHICH aims to ban LGBTQ conversion therapies in Ireland has passed through its second stage in the Seanad today.

Currently, there is one service provider of conversion therapy in the State, and Senator Fintan Warfield, who proposed the bill, said it is about protecting LGBTQ people.

“I look forward to the further legislative stages of the bill,” Warfield said.

Here’s an explainer on how a bill becomes a law.

The Prohibition of Conversion Therapies Bill 2018 would make it illegal for any person to perform or offer to perform conversion therapy on a person. It would also make it illegal to advertise conversion therapy. A person could be fined up to €5,000 and/or imprisoned for up to six months for either of these.

It would also make it unlawful for a person to remove a person from the State for conversion therapy. A person could be fined up to €10,000 and/or imprisoned for up to 12 months for this.

It would make it illegal for a professional to perform conversion therapy on a person, irrespective of whether monetary compensation is received in exchange; and to refer a person to other professionals or to any other person to perform conversion therapy. A person convicted under this part of the act could be fined up to €10,000 and/or jailed for up to 12 months.

“The bill not only bans the deceptive and discredited practice of LGBTQI conversion therapy, but it sends a message from this State that we consider sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression to be inherent to a person and as such cannot be changed or converted,” Warfield said.

The bill says that ‘conversion therapy’ means:

any practice or treatment by any person that seeks to change, suppress and, or eliminate a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity and, or gender expression; and
does not include any practice or treatment, which does not seek to change a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity and, or gender expression, or which– provides assistance to an individual undergoing a gender transition; or provides acceptance, support and understanding of a person, or a facilitation of a person’s coping, social support and identity exploration and development, including sexual orientation-neutral interventions.

Speaking of the bill in March, Warfield said: “What we are dealing with is the legacy of criminalisation … if we put the shoe on the other foot, this practice wouldn’t be appropriate for heterosexual people, so I think it’s time to end the practice and prohibit it in law.”

Warfield noted today that Brazil, Malta and Ecuador are the only countries in the world to have enacted nationwide bans on “a practice that has been discredited worldwide by institutions such as the UN Committee against Torture, the European Parliament and by the Irish Council for Psychotherapy”.

“I am heartened that, today, the Seanad has passed this bill and sent a message to our LGBTQI community, both here and worldwide, that we value them and celebrate their identities,” Warfield said.

With reporting by Aoife Barry.

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