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Irish lawmaker proposes bill to ban ‘harmful and deceptive’ conversion therapies

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An Irish lawmaker has introduced a bill that would ban so-called conversion therapies claiming to “cure” 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 widely discredited, only Brazil, Ecuador, and Malta have nationwide bans on conversion therapy, says the 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, ILGA’s executive director in 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 pick up this really important issue quickly,” 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. In a decision that raised eyebrows ahead of the meeting, the press has been barred from covering the event — with no public comments between the two leaders or joint press conference, which would be conventional, reports Pink News.

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

Thomson Reuters Foundation is the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org

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