Roderic O'Gorman, Ireland's minister for children, equality, disability, integration, and youth, has promised to introduce legislation to ban conversion therapy.
O'Gorman, who is gay, has described conversion therapy as exploitative and "a cruel process rooted in the promotion of shame," the Irish Mirror reports.
"Obviously, legislation takes time, but I think it's possible we could have it passed by the end of the year," he recently told the Mirror. "That's certainly what I'd be working towards, but it could drift into 2024." He would introduce the bill in the Dail, the lower house of Ireland's Parliament.
"I have met people who have been subjected to conversion therapy," he continued. "It doesn't happen a lot in Ireland, but when it does happen, its impact can be really devastating on people. Particularly on young people who are just coming out and exploring or understanding their own sexual identity. To masquerade where they're unhappy or nervous that that can be changed, I think it's just so exploitative. From the point of view of having some understanding of the damage that it can do to people, it is something I feel strongly about and something I really want to progress as equality minister."
Conversion therapy, condemned by World Health Organization and many other health experts and organizations globally, uses tools such as electroshock therapy, prayer, and aversion therapy in an effort to turn LGBTQ+ people straight or cisgender. It has been shown to be ineffective and to worsen the mental health of those who undergo it. Opponents of the practice emphasize that being LGBTQ+ is not a defect and doesn't need to be "fixed."
In Europe, France and Malta have banned the practice overall, according to LGBTQ+ rights group ILGA-Europe. Greece and Germany have banned its use on minors, as have several regions of Spain. In the U.S., use on minors is banned in 20 states and more than 100 municipalities. Canada has also banned conversion therapy.
O'Gorman has additional plans for the coming year, he told the Mirror. "We're looking to bring forward mechanisms that [mean] just as no one should be discriminated against on grounds of their race or sexual orientation, they shouldn't be discriminated against on socio-economic grounds either. ... I'm pleased to be in a department dealing with issues that I feel very passionately about," he said.