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Proposed conversion practices legislation in Scotland deemed too broad by Law Society

Proposed conversion practices legislation in Scotland deemed too broad by Law Society


The Law Society of Scotland has voiced concerns regarding proposed legislation aimed at prohibiting conversion practices in the country, arguing that unless a more precise approach is adopted, legitimate behaviour could inadvertently become criminalised

In a written submission to the Scottish Government's consultation paper on the proposal, the Law Society highlighted potential issues with the broad scope of the legislation. Drawing on input from various committees covering public policy, criminal law, family law, and human rights law, the Society emphasised the importance of ensuring that new laws, especially those of a criminal nature, are necessary, fair, and meticulously drafted to avoid unintended consequences.

John Mulholland, Convener of the Law Society's Public Policy Committee, expressed support for the policy's objectives of addressing harmful conversion practices but cautioned against the current breadth of the draft legislation. Mulholland emphasised the need for clarity and precision in the law to prevent innocent conduct from being inadvertently criminalised.

The Society raised concerns that the proposed legislation might encompass common therapeutic practices such as cognitive behavioural therapy, which should not be subject to legal reproach. While supportive of the use of both criminal and civil measures to address harmful conversion practices, the Law Society suggested that the focus should primarily be on employing civil provisions initially.

In essence, the Law Society's submission underscores the importance of striking a delicate balance between addressing harmful practices and safeguarding individual freedoms and legitimate therapeutic interventions. With refinement, the proposed legislation aims to achieve its intended objectives without unduly restricting lawful behaviour.