Scotland’s bishops have called on the Scottish Government to reject its report on conversion therapy, calling it ‘gravely concerning in regard to freedom of religion and expression.’
The report, commissioned by the Scottish Government to explore the possibility of expanding already-existing anti-conversion therapy laws, recommends punishing any ‘act, treatment, or effort… with a specific intent to change, suppress or inhibit someone’s sexual orientation, expression of sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or gender expression.’
Such plans would not include the need to prove intent to cause harm or that harm has been caused.
A spokesperson for the Scottish bishops said the proposals ‘would criminalise mainstream religious pastoral care, parental guidance, and medical or other professional intervention relating to sexual orientation, unless it was approved by the State as acceptable.’
“Existing legislation rightly protects all people from physical and verbal abuse, however, these proposals go much further,” the spokesperson said.
“The Church supports legislation which protects people from physical and verbal abuse.
“The advice of the expert committee, however, seeks to extend the scope of such legislation in a way that is gravely concerning in regard to freedom of religion and expression.”
The bishops expressed concern that the proposals could see the Church’s teachings on sexual morality criminalised, such that a person seeking help from the Church to live according its teachings would be legally prohibited from doing so.
“Priests could be banned from working in Scotland, the Church could lose its charitable status, and classroom and pastoral teachers could lose their jobs,” the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson also raised concerns about the future of Catholic schools should the proposals be implemented.