This Tuesday, the Anti Conversion Therapy Coalition was launched, a cross-party all island group who have called for the termination of the practice of conversion therapy in Ireland and Northern Ireland. The Coalition has been set up to let the Government’s of the Republic and Stormont know that the cruel and inhumane practice must end.
The group includes members from Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Sinn Féin, Social Democrats, Labour The Green Party, SDLP, S/PBP, Alliance, UUP, other activist groups and Independents.
@antictcoalition on twitter announced: “The Anti Conversion Therapy Coalition, comprised of young activists across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, launches today. We are calling for a complete ban on the unethical practice that is LGBTQ+ conversion therapy, across the island of Ireland.”
The group received supportive tweets from political party’s accounts, TDs, MPs, MLAs, Senators and Councillors from across the island.
Sinn Féin Senator Fintan Warfield put forward the Prohibition of Conversion Therapies Bill- three years ago. The bill is still in its early stages and has not progressed much over the years, almost being abandoned. The COVID-19 pandemic has also stalled any progress due to be made.
The bill officially states that it would prohibit conversion therapy as “a deceptive and harmful act or practice against a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity and, or gender expression.” The bill was co-signed by almost 20 senators at the time. The bill would also make it an offence to bring someone abroad to undergo conversion therapy, ensuring protection for those vulnerable.
Northern Ireland also still allows the practice of conversion therapy. Ministers are attempting to draft legislation to completely ban the practice, but are facing hurdles to make legislation “watertight” in order to avoid the continuation of the practice. Sinn Féin Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey MLA is leading the progression to ban the harmful practice, but has said she wants to ensure legislation is effective to avoid any loopholes that allow the practice to continue. Hargey has said she is working with an expert panel to put forward Stormont’s sexual orientation strategy.
Since the launching of the Anti Conversion Therapy Coalition, the movement has gained a lot of traction. The Programme for Government drawn up by Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party in 2020 did pledge to ban the practice of conversion therapy during their time in government, the ACTC is there to bring the legislation over the line by putting the pressure on politicians to keep their word.
Aaron Grant, Chairperson of the ACTC in an interview said “We’re coming together to highlight that this unethical practice needs to end in Ireland,” and “This isn’t an ideological issue; it’s about doing what’s right.”
The ACTC has gained massive following and #banconversiontherapy trended on twitter on the day of the launch. Green Party Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman TD is now moving to outlaw the practice in the Republic.
It is now confirmed that Minister O’Gorman’s department is now engaging with the Department of Health to make proposals needed to ensure that Senator Warfield’s Bill will be legislated for as soon as possible.
Minister O’Gorman said in an interview: “Legislating for a ban on conversion therapy will send a clear and unambiguous message to everyone, both younger and older, that a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression is not up for debate.”
The ACTC are seeking people who have gone through the ordeal of conversion therapy to reach out to them and become part of the movement.