A Christian lawyer named Aiden O'Neill QC has warned that a proposed ban on conversion therapy in Scotland, which Nicola Sturgeon proposed, would be unlawful and a breach of the European Court Convention on Human Rights. O'Neill QC represented Ashers Bakery in the famous gay cake case.
The legal expert has warned that plans to ban conversion therapy would "criminalize traditional religious beliefs," "criminalize prayers and sermons," and be "illiberal in intent," according to a 17-page opinion document written for the Christian Institute. The professional argues that the proposed ban would infringe on constitutional rights.
Controversial Legislation Raises Questions About Religious Freedom
A legal expert has argued that the proposals to ban conversion therapy in Scotland, which could be passed by the end of 2023 and would prohibit the practice for lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals, are beyond the legislative powers of the Scottish Parliament.
According to Prime Christian News, Despite this, the expert's opinion has been met with opposition. Many individuals and groups have expressed their support for the proposed ban in response to a public petition by the Equalities, Human Rights, and Civil Justice Committee that closed in August 2021. These supporters argue that a ban on conversion therapy is necessary to protect the safety and well-being of LGBT+ individuals.
One response called a ban "necessary and urgent," saying the Scottish Government needed to "stand up and take comprehensive action to protect its citizens."
Another response to the public petition argued that legislation banning conversion therapy was necessary to demonstrate that Scotland is an "equal and loving place." The Christian Institute is reportedly preparing a legal challenge to the proposed ban. The Scottish Government plans to hold a public consultation before formally introducing the ban.
According to a spokesman, the Scottish Government is committed to ending conversion therapy's harmful and discriminatory practice through legislation. The spokesman emphasized that the government recognizes and respects the legal right to freedom of religion, expression, and private and family life, which are protected under existing laws. The spokesman added that the government is following the lead of many other jurisdictions worldwide that have already banned conversion therapy and that the UK government also plans to ban the practice partially.
Conversion Therapy Made by the Scottish Government Would Result in a Law With Totalitarian Control
According to Aiden O'Neill, the recommendations made by the Scottish government for a ban on conversion therapy would result in the world's most totalitarian conversion therapy ban, potentially leading to the prosecution of innocent individuals, including churches and gender-critical feminists. In an article in Premier Christianity, the expert argues that the proposed law would criminalize mainstream pastoral work in churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples, as well as prayers and sermons that do not conform to state-approved views on LGBT issues.
To implement such a ban, the Scottish government would need to adopt measures that impact UK equality and discrimination law, which the expert believes is outside of the government's devolved powers.
Related Article: Canada's Pastors Set To Denounce 'Conversion Therapy' Ban