A GROUP of experts will be convened to advise the Scottish Government on the outlawing of conversion practices, it has been announced.

The Scottish Government said the ban would extend to any practices which “aim to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity”.

It added that the legislation to end conversion practices will be brought in “as comprehensively as possible within devolved powers by the end of 2023”.

The experts will be drawn from LGBTI organisations, faith and belief communities, mental health professionals, academic circles, and people who have experience of conversion therapy.

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The news follows a letter sent from a group of nine SNP MPs to the UK Government to underscore their support for proposals to “end the practice of conversion therapy in the UK”.

Writing to Minister for Women and Equalities Liz Truss, who is also the Foreign Secretary, the SNP group said it stands “ready to assist” in UK Government efforts to “bring forward legislation as soon as is practicable to ban conversion therapy which is a dangerous and abhorrent practice”.

The National: Scottish Health minister Shona Robison at Holyrood thursday..Pic Gordon Terris/The Herald.19/4/18.

Commenting on the Scottish Government’s announcement, Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison (above) said: “We are clear about the need to end conversion practices in Scotland – ensuring that everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, is safe from them. These practices are harmful, discriminatory, and have no place in our society.

“Work is now underway to establish an expert advisory group on banning conversion therapy and its remit will include recommending an agreed definition of conversion practices.

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“We will explore how legislation can best protect and support those who need it, while ensuring that freedoms – including freedoms of speech, religion, and belief – are safeguarded.

“We are also considering what non-legislative steps we can take to end conversion practices, and support survivors.”

The news was welcomed by campaign group End Conversion Therapy Scotland (ECTS), which said it hopes to work with the Government “to bring about a comprehensive ban on all forms of conversion therapy on the basis of sexuality or gender identity”.

A spokesperson for the group added: “A ban on conversion therapy in Scotland is long overdue. Every day that these practices remain legal places yet more LGBT+ people at risk of harm.

“While we recognise the need for consultation we urge the Scottish Government to recognize the consensus behind a ban of these practices and to act without delay to bring an end to conversion therapy in Scotland.”

The announcements and letter follow controversy around comments on conversion therapy made by SNP MP Joanna Cherry.

Cherry wrote on Twitter over the weekend that “any right thinking person” should oppose conversion therapy, but added that it must not be made “a criminal offence for therapists to try to help patients with gender dysphoria to feel comfortable in their birth sex”.

Opponents of the gender-critical MP said that allowing “therapists to try to help” people with gender dysphoria amounted to conversion therapy for transgender people.