The Irish government has made a “commitment” to banning conversion therapy and said it will take steps towards doing so in 2022.
According to the country’s Children’s Minister, next year will see the publication of research into legislation on a ban of the practice.
The Irish Examiner reported that in response to a question from Social Democrat TD Gary Gannon in parliament, Roderic O’Gorman emphasised the government’s desire to ban conversion therapy.
“The Programme for Government contains a commitment to legislate to end the practice of conversion therapy, an objective I strongly support,” he explained.
O’Gorman added that “a scoping paper on research into conversion therapy in February 2021″ had been created by his department.
He continued: “This paper comprised a literature overview and a high-level examination of the banning of conversion therapy internationally, along with any evidence in Ireland of conversion therapy practices.”
In addition to this, the minister stated that a sub-committee of the LGBTI+ National Inclusion Strategy Steering Committee has been created and will thoroughly look through the scoping paper to determine what happens next.
“I am pleased to say that my department is now commissioning research to capture the views and experiences of people who have been subjected to the practice of conversion therapy in Ireland,” O’Gorman added. “A Request for Quotation issued on 16 November 2021 and it is expected that the research will be commissioned and begin early in 2022.”
He also promised that he “will work very hard with all involved to ensure that the necessary legislation is enacted”.
Despite the commitment, the Gay Health Network in Ireland criticised the “the stalling of progress on this matter” and the “continued delay by Government on the enactment of the legislation, on the basis that research is needed”.
The Network added: “There remains no clear deadline for the completion of such research. In the meantime, Conversion Therapy practices continue to cause damage to individuals.”
Conversion therapy is a practice that seeks to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity and can take many forms.
It has been widely condemned by medical professionals who state it does not work and has harmful effects on those who undergo it.
The commitment of the Irish government comes shortly after the UK’s latest delay of its ban after it extended its consultation on doing so by eight weeks.
According to a statement released by the government on 9 December, the move was taken to ensure the legislation can be shaped appropriately and to take as wide a range of views as possible into consideration.
“We are absolutely determined to stamp out conversion therapy, and want to hear all views on the best ways to do that,” said Minister for Women and Equalities Liz Truss.
“The consultation on our proposals has been extended by eight weeks, to ensure anyone who has not yet responded has the opportunity to do so.”
Theresa May’s government first committed to a ban on conversion therapy in 2018, though this is yet to be delivered.
The current consultation is unlikely to result in a comprehensive ban on the practice, as a statement from the government stated that its goal is to make it a criminal offence to carry out conversion therapy on someone under the age of 18 under any circumstance, as well as those older than this who did not give their informed consent.
There are also plans to produce a package of measures and support for victims, which is likely to include limiting the promotion of it and removing profit streams.