A new cross-party all-island coalition of activists will seek to outlaw what they broadly define as “conversion therapy” even as lawyers in the UK raise religious freedom concerns.
The Anti Conversion Therapy Coalition (ACTC), which launches today, is made up of independent activists, as well as members from different parties in the Republic and Northern Ireland.
The group will support Sinn Féin Senator Fintan Warfield’s Prohibition of Conversion Therapies Bill 2018, which will soon undergo committee stage.
Nearly two dozen Senators have co-signed the Bill, including from Sinn Féin, Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, the Labour Party, Green Party and Independents.
The bill would prohibit “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 would criminalise any attempt to do so.
Meanwhile, in the UK, a broad ban on conversion therapy could criminalise Christian parents who encourage their children to follow the Bible’s teachings on gender and sexuality, a leading QC has said.
Prominent human rights lawyer Philip Havers QC has sent a formal legal opinion to Government ministers, warning them that a proposed ban could make everyday Christian actions illegal, including conversations both in church or at home.
Havers determined that encouraging a child with gender dysphoria to accept their birth sex, or preaching the Bible’s position on same-sex marriage, could become a criminal offence if a broad ban is instituted.