On 9 January the Scottish Government published its extreme proposals for a new law to ban so-called conversion practices. Please respond to the consultation today.

To help you respond, the Christian Institute has produced an overview of the proposals and a guide for using the online response form. The guide identifies the key consultation questions and gives ideas for how to respond.

A letter has been written to the Equalities Minister, Emma Roddick, expressing serious concerns that the Government’s plans for a ‘conversion therapy’ Bill threaten to criminalise aspects of the ordinary work of churches. See the names of the six lead signatories below.

We are inviting church leaders, pastoral workers and anyone else in Scotland to sign in support of the letter. Your name and information will not be made public.

Scroll down to sign the letter.

Number of signatories (updated periodically):

Church leaders and pastoral workers – 603

Others – 1603

Dear Ms Roddick,

We write as church leaders and pastoral workers to express our concern about plans for a legislative ban on so-called conversion therapy.

As Christians, we are commanded by Christ to love our neighbour. Therefore, we strongly oppose abusive and coercive practices and we support the use of existing law to protect all people from verbal and physical abuse.

Our concern is that the kind of conversion therapy law which the Scottish Government is being advised to introduce is not about protecting people from abuse. It is about targeting the orthodox belief and practice of Christian churches.

Holyrood’s Equalities Committee and the Government’s Expert Advisory Group on Ending Conversion Practices both called on the Government to model its legislation on the conversion therapy ban currently in force in the Australian state of Victoria. The campaigners whom the Scottish Government is seeking to satisfy refer to the Victoria ban as the “gold standard”.

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission is one of the bodies responsible for enforcement of the ban. In guidance issued to church leaders, the Commission specifies state-sanctioned language for prayers and pastoral conversations. It requires that religious people must only pray in a way that affirms everyone as “perfect as they are”. It says that prayers that “talk about a person’s brokenness or need to repent”, or which “ask for a person to not act on their attractions”, are harmful and therefore likely to be illegal.

No sincere Christian may in good conscience deny the historic faith in this way. It is a central tenet of the Christian faith that every human being is not “perfect as they are”. In the Lord’s Prayer we ask God “to forgive us our sins” and “lead us not into temptation”. Praying the Lord’s Prayer with a person who identifies as gay or trans in Victoria could – under the kind of ban you are being asked to legislate – lead to an accusation of unlawful conversion therapy.

This demonstrates the problem that the Scottish Government will face should it push ahead with plans for a Bill on ‘ending conversion practices’. It is not possible to satisfy the demands of pro-ban activists whilst also protecting basic religious freedoms.

We do not think the Government will be able to avoid criminalising aspects of the ordinary work of churches and we urge you not to proceed with a Bill.

Yours sincerely,

Reverend Dr William Philip

The Tron Church, Glasgow          

Chairman of Cornhill Scotland

Reverend Stephen Allison          

Kiltarlity Free Church, Beauly (Free Church of Scotland)

Public Engagement Coordinator for the Free Church of Scotland

Reverend David Scott                   

Inshes East Church of Scotland, Inverness (Church of Scotland)

Reverend Paul L. Rees

Charlotte Chapel, Edinburgh (Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches)

Pastor Dr Jeremy McQuoid

Deeside Christian Fellowship Church, Aberdeen

Chairman of Keswick Ministries

Reverend Brian More                   

Newton Mearns Baptist Church, Newton Mearns (Baptist Union of Scotland)