A HOLYROOD committee is to consider calls for controversial gay conversion therapy to made a criminal offence.

The Scottish Parliament’s Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee is looking at the issue after a petition seeking to outlaw such practices was backed by more than 5500 people.

The Committee is also now calling for the public to get involved and share their views on the issue, which one SNP MSP dubbed an “abhorrent” practice. 

Conversion therapy refers to any form of psychotherapy or treatment which aims to change a person’s sexual orientation or suppress their gender identity. 

READ MORE: End Conversion Therapy Scotland welcomes cross-party pledge to end practice

The National:

It is based on an assumpton that being part of the LGBT community is a mental illness that can be "cured", according to Stonewall.

Holyrood committee convener Joe FitzPatrick said the consultation was asking people if making conversion therapy a criminal offence was the “right way forward”.

He said: “Conversion therapy is a practice which has deeply impacted upon members of the LGBT community in Scotland.

“This petition is calling for conversion therapy to be made a criminal offence. We are, therefore, seeking views on whether this would be the right way forward and whether the Scottish Government should take steps to end the practice, within the powers available to it.

“The committee also wants suggestions on our next steps as we consider this petition. We particularly want to know who you think we should speak to about this important issue and who we need to hear from.”

The National:

Extreme forms of conversion therapy can include exorcisms, physical violence and food deprivation. 

These "therapies" have been blasted as unethical and harmful by professional bodies and those within the community.

In the Queen’s speech earlier this year the UK Government announced a consultation will be held in England and Wales on conversion therapy before the law changes. 

There is a possibility that some medical professionals, religious leaders and others may be exempt from the law change, which caused outrage at the time. 

It is not known exactly how widespread the practice is, as many can be reluctant to share their experiences.

READ MORE: Moral panic over Stonewall and trans rights is fuelled by misinterpretation

The National:

Around 5% of 108,000 people who responded to the UK Government’s 2018 LGBT survey said they had been offered some form of conversion therapy. While 2% had undergone it.

Those from an ethnic minority background were twice as likely to be affected, with around 10% of Christian respondents and 20% of Muslim respondents saying they had undergone or been offered conversion therapy - compared to 6% with no religion. 

The figure was also higher among transgender respondents - with almost one in 10 trans men said they had been offered it, with one in 25 undergoing conversion therapy. 

Karen Adam, SNP MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast, said: “Conversion therapy is an abhorrent practice which has had huge implications on LGBT people living in Scotland.

“I am happy to support this petition which is calling for conversion therapy to be made illegal in our inclusive country.

The National:

“The Scottish Parliament's Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee are seeking the views of members of the public on whether this is the best way forward and if the Scottish Government should take steps to end the practice, within the powers available to us.

“The Committee is also looking for suggestions on the next steps as we consider this petition. We are particularly interested to find out what people and organisations you feel we should be talking with about ending conversion therapy.”

The consultation runs until August 13, you can take part here

Do you or a loved one have any experience of conversion therapy? Please contact abbi.garton@thenational.scot