The Evangelical Alliance has consistently raised concerns about conversion therapy plans and continues to call on governments to address abusive and forced practices but to also ensure individuals can receive the support they choose.

In the consultation the government outlined how they intend to end conversion practices – which they describe as any effort to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity”. These measures are open to consultation before any legislation is brought to the Scottish Parliament and could become law. 

The Evangelical Alliance will respond to the consultation encouraging the Scottish Government to take proportionate measures and will provide resources to help members respond directly themselves.

The Evangelical Alliance has been engaged in proposals across the UK over recent years on this matter and has consistently called for policy to be focused on addressing forced, abusive and coercive practices, and to demonstrate where the current law is insufficient to do this. While supporting measures that tackle such abusive practices the Evangelical Alliance has encouraged governments to do so in a way that protects the freedom of people to choose the support they wish and does not restrict the ordinary practices of churches.


One of the problems that different governments in the UK have repeatedly faced in this area is accurately defining what is meant by conversion therapy, or as referred to in this consultation, conversion practices”. The Evangelical Alliance has previously insisted that a clear and agreed definition is vital for developing workable legislation. 

In the consultation document setting out the plans, the Scottish Government explain that their usage of the term conversion practices’ is used to refer to acts which are intended to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. This is defined later in the document. It is not intended to reflect other common uses of the term conversion’, for example, from one or no religion to another.”

"No law should prevent Christian leaders from teaching what they believe, supporting their congregation and providing prayer and pastoral support to those who request it"

Fred Drummond, director of Scotland for the Evangelical Alliance commented on the consultation:

The Evangelical Alliance welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the consultation on ending conversion practices. No one should be forced or coerced into trying to change their sexuality, and we support measures to strengthen the law to ensure that criminal actions are properly addressed. However, any changes to the law should ensure people are free to seek out and receive the support they choose, and no law should prevent Christian leaders from teaching what they believe, supporting their congregation and providing prayer and pastoral support to those who request it.

The Evangelical Alliance are reviewing the proposals carefully, to assess whether the proposed changes are addressing a gap in the law – we believe the law already covers abusive and forced practices – and what the impact of a new law would be. We will shortly provide further guidance on the measures proposed and will be encouraging our members to respond to the consultation.”

The government’s proposals follow a previous commitment to introduce the legislation and an Expert Advisory Group which made recommendations on how they might do this. Those recommendations were significantly influenced by legislation in the state of Victoria, Australia, and would have seen wide-ranging infringements on the freedom of churches to practice their faith and for people to receive the support they choose. A legal opinion commissioned by the Christian Institute found that such an approach would have the undoubted effect of criminalising much mainstream pastoral work of churches”.

Were the Scottish Government to adopt such an approach it would potentially restrict churches from teaching orthodox beliefs on sexuality, providing support and discipleship to their congregation and counsel and prayer for those who seek it.

The present consultation does not adopt all of the policy proposals which the advisory group recommended and the foreword to the consultation states that fundamental rights such as the freedom of religion and the right to family and private life are upheld.

The Evangelical Alliance will carefully consider the proposals to determine whether they address a gap in the current law that needs to be bridged and whether they achieve the aim of protecting vital freedoms. 

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