Council to debate ban on conversion therapy

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Members of Derry City and Strabane District Council will be asked to support a call for the prohibition of so-called ‘conversion therapies’ in Ireland and Britain when they meet for the local authority’s monthly meeting on Thursday.

A motion proposing a ban on any form of treatment aimed at stopping same-sex attraction or suppressing gender identity is expected to be moved by Sinn Féin Councillor Conchúr McCauley.

The proposal comes as the Prohibition of Conversion Therapies Bill 2018 continues its progress through the houses of the Oireachtas in the South and amid growing calls for the outlawing of so-called ‘cure’ therapies in Britain.

At present there is no law either permitting or banning the use of conversion therapy in the North.

Thursday’s motion, however, will ask councillors to endorse several leading international studies, which have concluded that the practise is unethical and harmful.

Colr. McCauley, who happens to be gay and will be moving the proposal, said he has spoken to members of the local LGBT community in the city who are supportive of the move.

“Prior to bringing this motion before the council I have had extensive talks with the local LGBT community on this issue. I am pleased that I have got the full support of the Rainbow Project, Cara-Friend and Foyle Pride,” said the Ballyarnett representative.

“There is nothing wrong with being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender and Sinn Féin is totally opposed to the use of ‘therapies’ which are aimed to change, repress and, or eliminate a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity and, or gender expression.

“These ‘therapies’ are damaging, extremely dangerous and can have a very damaging psychological effect on people.”

Colr. McCauley said a growing body of research has shown that the use of faux psycotherapeutic or any other forms of ‘techniques’ to try to turn gay people straight is dehumanising and harmful.

“The practise of conversion therapy has been condemned and discredited worldwide by institutions such as the UN Committee Against Torture, the European Parliament and by the Irish Council for Psychotherapy. We believe that ‘conversion therapies’ should be a banned throughout Britain and Ireland,” he said.

Colr. McCauley’s motion will propose that “this council recognises the harm and stress placed on young people who are forced, against their will, into so called ‘conversion therapies’ and condemns any practice or treatment by any person that seeks to change, suppress and/or, eliminate another person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.”

It will further move that “this council accepts the reports from the UN Committee Against Torture, UK Council for Psychotherapy, NHS and all the major psychological professional bodies in the UK in their condemnation of these so-called therapies and their conclusions that conversion therapy is unethical and harmful. Therefore, this council supports the call for a ban on ‘conversion therapies’ across the UK and Ireland.”