The Scottish Parliament’s Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee released a report Jan. 25 outlining its plan to ban so-called “conversion therapy.” If carried out, the ban would criminalize all Biblical teaching on marriage and sexuality.
“If Scotland were to implement all the demands of this report we would end up with the most extreme legislation on conversion therapy in the Western world,” said Simon Calvert, deputy director for public affairs at The Christian Institute, a U.K.-based religious liberty organization.
The committee suggested religious and community leaders be involved as the proposed legislation progresses, but with the caveat that such leaders undergo re-education on how to “promote acceptance of diversity.”
Prayer and pastoral care should help people “explore or come to terms with their identity in a non-judgmental and non-directive way,” the committee said.
In November, the Family Education Trust, a U.K. educational trust researching causes and consequences of family breakdown, was invited to give evidence before the committee addressing its child welfare and parental rights concerns.
“There is no consistent definition of what conversion therapy is,” Piers Shepherd, senior researcher at the Family Education Trust, told the committee. “Coercive and abusive practices are clearly wrong, but the proposed ban is so broad that it appears to attempt to impose highly contested social and political views in a manner that discriminates against those who do not share such views.
“ … Our greatest concern is about the effects on families and children. When a child is under 16, their parents are responsible for them, and we believe that parents have the right to bring up their children according to the moral beliefs that they have. We feel that, were a ban such as this passed, it would make it a lot more difficult for parents to have conversations with their children in order to, for example, get help for a gender-dysphoric child.”
Shepherd went on to cite research from the American Psychological Association and England’s National Health Service showing that gender dysphoria in children is often fleeting.
“The American Psychological Association found that only 2-30% of biological females with gender dysphoria persist in having it into adulthood; the rest desist,” he explained. “For males, between 12-50% persist and the rest desist. According to research by NHS England, 12-27% persist.”
Peter Lynas, the U.K. director of the Evangelical Alliance, was also invited to address the committee.
He warned that such an ill-defined ban could prevent gender-confused individuals who are genuinely seeking Biblical counsel from receiving it.
“We could end up banning people from getting the support that they want … by implying that [they] do not know their own minds and do not understand what they are asking for,” he said.
Despite these religious liberty concerns, the committee claimed that the “majority of religious organizations” it heard from are in favor of the ban and urged the Scottish government to move forward with the proposed ban “as soon as possible.”
Above: The British, Scottish and European flags in front of the Scottish Parliament building at Holyrood in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Photo: Iain Masterton/Alamy Stock Photo