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Dickson Advocates for an End to Conversion Therapy

East Antrim Alliance MLA, Stewart Dickson, wrote to the Minister for Communities on 12 March asking for an update on plans to end so-called ‘conversion therapy’ in Northern Ireland.

Speaking on the matter, Mr Dickson said: “Conversion therapy is an exceptionally harmful and misguided practice that purports to ‘cure’ LGBT+ people of their sexual orientation. The premise is completely false and the consequences often heart-breaking.”

In response to the letter, the Department of Communities explained that conversion therapy is a cross-cutting matter, which “Will be taken forward through the Executive’s Sexual Orientation Strategy. This approach will provide for an examination of a range of elements, including penalties and law, health and wellbeing and equality and inclusion, all of which intersect in this matter.”

A report drawn up by the Sexual Orientation Expert Advisory Panel was published on 5 March, outlining recommendations aimed at ending conversion therapy, with specific reference to a legislative ban. However, before legislation can be drawn up, there will be a public consultation on the draft strategy, with an approximate publication date of December 2021.

Mr Dickson said: “It is unfortunate that legislation on conversion therapy is unlikely to be taken forward until the next Assembly Mandate. However, it is crucial that we get this right, and therefore I urge the public to engage with the consultation and let their views be heard.

“Conversion therapy is completely abhorrent, and it is time to make a stand alongside the LGBT+ community to put an end to the practice as soon as possible.”

More details can be found on the Department’s website www.communities-, whilst the Sexual Orientation Expert Advisory Panel’s report can be found here.


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