John Swinney's SNP Government still committed to LGBT conversion therapy ban

The Health Secretary has said the SNP Government is still committed to moving forward with plans to ban conversion therapy.

Neil Gray said the government will reflect on responses to a consultation, but described it as an “important piece of legislation”.

The consultation outlined plans to ban a practice which sees people attempt to change or suppress the gender identity or sexual orientation of another person.

Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie has said new First Minister John Swinney must not water down policies pursued by his party before they were kicked out of government..

He said this includes a “watertight ban on so-called conversion therapy”.

Some have raised concerns about the conversion therapy plans and how they could impact parenting and the pastoral care offered by religious leaders.

Appearing on The Sunday Show on the BBC, Gray was asked if the Government would go ahead with the new law banning conversion therapy.

He said: “The First Minister said, I think on Friday morning, that we are going to look at the consultation responses from the conversion therapy consultation and reflect upon them.

“But we are committed to continuing with that legislation because it’s an important piece of legislation.”

He was also asked whether the recommendations of the Cass Review would be implemented in Scotland.

The Cass Review examined gender care services in England and criticised the lack of evidence around the use of puberty blockers and other medical intervention.

Gray said: “We are now reflecting upon her recommendations. Our amendment suggested we would be responding before the summer recess and that’s something I’m committed to.”

He added: “The polarised political and public discourse has not helped in terms of taking forward a very sensitive area of public health and medicine and that’s why I want to make sure that in responding to the Cass review we do so in a measured evidence-based way recognising the challenges that there are for those young people that wish to seek those services but also for the medical professionals delivering those services and making sure that families are properly supported in what is very sensitive area of health policy.”

Gray also said he is pleased with the way Swinney has started his tenure as First Minister, looking to “reach out”, which he said has led to positivity within the party and around the country.

He said: “I think John Swinney’s leadership is an opportunity for us to refocus, for us to make sure that we’re focusing on the priorities of the people of Scotland and that’s what minority government also does by making sure that we are reaching out across the parliament and finding consensus.”

Scottish Conservative health spokesman Dr Sandesh Gulhane MSP said: “The SNP must stop dithering and immediately implement the recommendations of the Cass review in full.

“Now that the extremist Greens are no longer in government, Neil Gray and John Swinney need to show some leadership and give clarity to vulnerable youngsters and their families over gender care.

“It’s time the SNP followed the science and expertise of the Cass report, rather than ignorant ideology.”

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