Irish Senator says conversion therapy should be ‘individual choice’ unless harmful
Irish Senator Rónán Mullen has said that conversion therapy should be an “individual choice” unless it can be proven to be harmful.
Mullen made the comments in Ireland’s Seanad, which is the upper house in the country’s parliament. He was responding to remarks made by Senator Fintan Warfield about conversion therapy.
Taking to the floor, Mullen said that conversion therapy “is an area, I think, that many people are afraid to wade into,” before saying that the highest value is “what people want, provided it doesn’t do harm.”
He continued: “I don’t know enough about it at this stage, but if it can be demonstrably shown that this is harmful to people, then there is a very good case to make it unlawful.
“If it cannot be shown to be harmful to people then you’re back into the realm of individual choice.
Senator Rónán Mullen says he knows parents who are ‘concerned’ about ‘transgender issues’
“I say this because I don’t think we talk enough in these houses about the importance of an evidence base for what is proposed. I would hope that whether it’s in relation to this area, or indeed the very fraught and difficult area of transgender persons and their rights and needs, that we would look honestly at what the current evidence base is.
“A lot of parents I know are quite concerned at what’s being taught in schools now in the name of equality in relation to the transgender issues, and they question whether children’s best interests are being served by what is now often proposed.”
“If it cannot be shown to be harmful to people then you’re back into the realm of individual choice.”
– Rónán Mullen
Senator Mullen is a socially conservative Irish politician and was a prominent voice arguing against same-sex marriage in the lead up to Ireland’s 2015 referendum on the matter.
Speaking to TheJournal.ie in 2015, Mullen said: “What marriage is about is the state supporting the particular relationship between men and women because that provides the context that people want that works best for the bringing up of children.
He continued: “I’d be very clear, when it comes to adoption decisions there should be a clearly expressed presumption in law that core to a child’s best interests are the ability to give him or her a father and a mother.”
Conversion therapy has been banned in several countries and has been condemned by various health and psychiatry bodies
Conversion therapy is widely considered to be pseudoscience that seeks to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
The practice has been condemned by various health and psychiatry bodies across the world. In the United States, it has been discredited by the American Psychiatric Association, American College of Physicians, and the American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry.
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Meanwhile, a UK survey of survivors of conversion therapy from earlier this year found that one in five people who had been through the practice had attempted suicide.
The findings were detailed in a report from the Ozanne foundation and was based on 4,600 responses.
Of the 458 participants who had experienced conversion therapy, 91 people people said they had attempted suicide.
Two in five of those who had experience with conversion therapy had had suicidal thoughts, while less than a third said they had gone on to “have gone on to lead a happy and fulfilled life.”
In Ireland, the Prohibition of Conversion Therapies Bill 2018—which seeks to ban conversion therapy—has passed its second reading in the Seanad, although there are still a number of stages for it to pass through before it can be implemented.