Prison for parents who deny sex change to their children in Scotland

Controversy over bill against ‘conversion therapies’

There is controversy in Scotland over the proposed law on the ban on “conversion therapies” to “change or suppress the sexual orientation or gender identity” of minors, the imposition of which will become a crime. Requested by the governing Scottish nationalist SNP party, the draft has been put up for online consultation until 2 April. But many fear that the definition of conversion therapy is too vague. The Telegraph newspaper writes that parents who deny sex change to their minor children could risk up to seven years in prison.

Conversion practices have “no place” in Scotland, Equalities Minister Emma Roddick said today, explaining that she wanted to lead the way in the UK. Roddick stressed that the ban will only apply to coercive therapy that causes harm to victims. But many critics, writes the BBC, believe that the definition is too vague and ends up criminalizing parents or attacking freedom of speech.

The LGBT Alliance says it is concerned that the new law could ban any response to minors who question their gender other than “the affirmation of their self-diagnosis”. Rhona Hotchkiss, former director of a women’s prison, warns against the risk of minors being pressured into changing their sex when they are actually homosexual. For the Scottish Catholic Church “there is a lack of clarity about what conversion therapy means”, and the new law “could criminalize advice or opinions given in good faith”. “We urge the Scottish Government not to criminalize pastoral guidance, parental guidance, or medical and professional interventions relating to sexual orientation that are not approved by the State,” says Peter Kearney, spokesperson for the Catholic Church.