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Irish lawmaker proposes bill to ban 'harmful and deceptive' conversion therapies

by Zoe Tabary | zoetabary | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Thursday, 15 March 2018 12:24 GMT

ARCHIVE PHOTO: A couple walks hand in hand from the count centre in Dublin as Ireland holds a referendum on gay marriage May 23, 2015. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton

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Many gay people are still forced to undergo archaic and invasive therapy based on the idea that homosexuality is a mental disorder or medical condition

By Zoe Tabary

LONDON, March 15 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - An Irish lawmaker has introduced a bill that would ban so-called conversion therapies claiming to "cure" lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

Fintan Warfield, a senator with Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein, proposed the bill on Wednesday to ban conversion therapy as a "deceptive and harmful act or practice against a person's sexual orientation, gender identity and, or gender expression".

Despite global gains in LGBT rights, many gay people are still forced to undergo archaic and invasive therapy based on the idea that homosexuality is a mental disorder or medical condition.

Although conversion therapy has been widely discredited, only Brazil, Ecuador and Malta have nationwide bans, says the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA).

Such therapies could have a "negative impact on people's mental health, as they can lead to lower self-esteem, depression and suicidal ideation," Evelyne Paradis, executive director of ILGA-Europe, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"Legislation sends out a powerful message that stigma masquerading as 'therapy' will not be tolerated by modern societies ... and we encourage Irish parliamentarians to quickly pick up this really important issue," she said by email.

Under the bill, individuals found guilty of performing conversion therapy on another person could be fined up to 10,000 euros ($12,351) and face up to a year in prison.

Irish politicians have called on Leo Varadkar, Ireland's first openly gay prime minister, to raise LGBT rights at a meeting on Friday with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who has expressed staunchly anti-gay rights views.

Ireland made history in 2015 as the first country to legalize gay marriage by popular ballot: in the referendum, 62 percent voted in favour in a nation that was once dominated by the Catholic Church.

(Reporting by Zoe Tabary @zoetabary, Editing by Robert Carmichael. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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