Photo: Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona

Ireland’s integration minister Roderic O’Gorman has promised to introduce legislation banning the “exploitative” practice of so-called ‘conversion therapy’ by 2024.

The politician, who is openly gay, previously described it as “a cruel process rooted in the promotion of shame”.

‘Conversion therapy’ is typically defined as any attempt at changing or suppressing a person’s sexuality or gender identity, often involving techniques such as electroshock therapy or prayer.

It has been widely condemned by health experts and bodies all over the world, including the National Health Service and the World Health Organisation, with some comparing it to torture.

O’Gorman has now stated that Ireland should join other European countries in taking steps towards outlawing the harmful practice.

“A process that seeks for somebody to change their sexual orientation or gender identity is extremely exploitative, particularly if undertaken on someone under 18,” he told the Irish Mirror.

“I’d hope to bring the legislation into the Dail next year.

“Obviously, legislation takes time but I think it’s possible we could have it passed by the end of the year. That’s certainly what I’d be working towards, but it could drift into 2024.”

He further explained that he has met victims of ‘conversion therapy’ who are living with the “devastating” impact it has.

“It doesn’t happen a lot in Ireland, but when it does happen, its impact can be really devastating on people,” he continued.

“Particularly on young people who are just coming out and exploring or understanding their own sexual identity.”

O’Gorman also shared that reforming equality legislation is among his other priorities for 2023, particularly when it comes to making sure people don’t face discrimination as a result of where they live or how they speak.

He added: “One of the things we’re looking at is creating a new ground for equality cases on socio-economic discrimination, recognising that people are often discriminated against on the grounds of their address or their accents.”

Ireland’s progress comes after years of U-turns and delays to a ‘conversion therapy’ ban in the UK.

A commitment to restricting it was first made by Theresa May’s administration in 2018, though is yet to actually be implemented.

Boris Johnson’s government made a number of backtracks to these promises in 2021, resulting in a watered down version of what was originally proposed.

This sparked widespread outrage that resulted in a protest outside Downing Street and a petition that was signed more than 140,000 times.