SDLP councillor Séamas de Faoite has said the failure to ban conversion therapy in the North is completely inexcusable.
He was speaking ahead of Pride celebrations in Belfast on Saturday.
Councillor de Faoite said Communities Minister Deidre Hargey had ample opportunity to ban the harmful practice and that her excuses around her failure to do so don’t stack up.
Councillor de Faoite said:
“It’s deeply disappointing that as we get set to celebrate the first full scale Pride celebrations in Belfast since the coronavirus pandemic that conversion therapy has yet to be outlawed in Northern Ireland. This harmful practice destroys people’s lives and even puts lives at risk. The harm conversion therapy can cause to an LGBT+ person cannot be overstated, it destroys your sense of self worth and is the exact opposite of the support people need when coming to terms with their identity.
“The Assembly has already supported the banning of conversion therapy and the Minister with the power to do so – Deidre Hargey has committed to outlawing it on numerous occasions. Despite these warm words over a year has passed and we are no further along.
“Minister Hargey’s excuses for this delay just don’t stack up, I recognise that this legislation is complex, but we have seen a number of countries around the world, including Germany and Canada, ban the practice and we don’t want to end up in a similar situation to England and Wales, with the Tory government promising a ban they have yet to deliver on years down the line.
“The DUP’s boycott of their responsibilities has held up innumerable important pieces of legislation and work at Stormont, but Minister Hargey was warned that she had a limited timeframe to act on this before the Assembly collapsed. The DUP’s churlishness doesn’t explain the Minister’s inability to progress a legislative ban. One only has to meet someone who has been a victim of conversion therapy and hear their harrowing account to realise how important an issue this is and what is at stake. I would urge the Minister to establish exactly what progress has been made on this legislation so far and to publicly commit to making it one of her top priorities as soon as the institutions are restored.”