Parents face 7 years’ jail if they challenge “puberty blocker law”

In the latest hammer blow to the SNP’s Orwellian plan to ban ‘conversion therapy’, the Free Speech Union has warned that the proposed new laws could force guardian to accept a child must undergo medical intervention to change gender – or face prosecution.

“In the latest hammer blow to the SNP’s Orwellian plan to ban ‘conversion therapy’, the Free Speech Union has warned that the proposed new laws could force guardians to accept a child must undergo medical intervention to change gender – or face prosecution.

In a bombshell assessment of the proposals, Fraser Hudghton, director of the FSU in Scotland, said: ‘Time and again, the Scottish Government cook up laws which are designed to bring the population into line with their groupthink, with the threat of prosecution if you don’t get on board’.”

It’s great to see our response to the Scottish Government consultation on ‘Ending conversion practices in Scotland’ getting picked up by the Mail on Sunday!

The Scottish Government is currently consulting the public on radical legislation which would make it illegal to “change or suppress another individual’s gender identity”.

As Fraser told the Mail: “The conversion therapy ban proposals, if put on the statute book, have the potential to trample all over a parent’s right to discuss with their child what options are best for them, raise the prospect of doctors fleeing for the hills if the subject of gender identity comes up, and religious leaders forced to keep their beliefs to themselves.”

On the issue of parenting, for instance, the consultation states that “parental advice… advising their child against medical interventions, where it is not coercive” and “a parent who did not actively support their child’s decision to… present as a different gender” would not be liable for prosecution under the proposed legislation. But it also states that “restrictions or limitations imposed on someone specifically to repress or prevent the development of their… gender identity” would be unlawful under the legislation.

These statements contradict each other and reflect the fact that the proponents of this bill have not worked out how to resolve the inherent difficulties in trying to simultaneously respect parents’ rights and ban gender conversion therapy. Instead of resolving this tension, they’ve just pretended it doesn’t exist.

It follows, therefore, that parents who believe their child may be one of the 80 per cent of young people whose gender confusion will resolve itself as they enter adulthood and refuse to consent to their child taking puberty blockers, not least because they can cause lifelong sterility, may meet all the tests for prosecution – “harm”, “intent” and a “course of behaviour” – in this legislation.

We’re also concerned that the proposed legislation threatens the freedom of speech and conscience of health professionals who treat, or are likely to treat, gender distressed patients.

In the past few years, a “gender affirmative model” has taken hold in clinical settings like the NHS England’s controversial, soon-to-be-closed Tavistock Clinic, and NHS Scotland’s Sandyford clinic.

Faced with cases of gender distress, this model encourages clinicians to affirm rather than question a child’s chosen gender identity, before then putting them on a medical pathway – including the use of puberty blockers and hormone treatment – that stops the body developing male or female sexual characteristics.

As per the findings of NHS England’s interim Cass Review last year, clinicians at the Tavistock said they felt under pressure to adopt an unquestioning affirmative approach in a manner that was at odds with the standard process of clinical assessment and diagnosis that they had been trained to undertake in all other clinical encounters.

This culture of silencing any evidence-based challenge to gender identity ideology is already deeply concerning given that we now know that puberty blockers — intended to delay the onset of puberty so children suffering from gender dysphoria can have more time before deciding whether to have surgery — can cause lifelong harms, such as bone disease and infertility, and that underlying issues like autism, ADHD, homophobic bullying, sexual abuse, and other traumas are as likely to cause gender dysphoria as a supposedly “repressed” gender identity.

But how much more pressure will cautious doctors, clinicians and therapists feel under to take an affirmative approach if trans activists have recourse to a new law while attempting to inveigle employers, professional associations and regulators into agreeing with them that “intellectual doubts”, “research evidence”, and “unique patient characteristics”, represent little more than transphobia-in-action?

Doctors, in particular, have both a right and a duty to recommend what in their judgement is the best clinical pathway for a patient who identifies as trans, particularly if that patient is a minor. Would a suitably weaponised trans conversion ban require them to break the Hippocratic oath on pain of prosecution for “suppressing/repressing” someone’s true identity?

In such circumstances, it is probable that any health professional who believes in an exploratory, psychotherapeutic approach to gender dysphoria will avoid seeing gender confused patients for fear of being prosecuted

Then there’s the question of religious leaders. The Scottish Parliament’s Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee (EHRCJ) states that the legislation “should not pose any restrictions on ordinary religious teaching or the right of people to take part in prayer or pastoral care to discuss, explore or come to terms with their identity in a non-judgmental and non-directive way”, while the consultation document itself claims that “advice and guidance from a religious leader which includes statements of traditional faith beliefs and sexual ethics would also have to be demonstrably coercive” to amount to an offence.

It is, however, an unfortunate fact that many fundamentalist religions prohibit homosexuality and teach their followers that same sex attraction is wrong as a matter of religious doctrine. The legislation ignores the fact that religions are, by nature, judgmental and directive in that they direct their followers to live in accordance with specific religious teachings and judge them harshly if they don’t. The proposed exemption for “non-directive” guidance is therefore virtually irrelevant in the religious context. All religious guidance is inherently judgmental and directive and, therefore, likely to be within scope of the legislation.

Many religious groups will struggle to honestly comply with this Bill and a fear of vexatious allegations being made and investigations being launched would pressure religious groups to go beyond what the new law requires.

As a consequence of the ban in the Australian state of Victoria, for instance, religious leaders are held to be carrying out an illegal act if they tell people “that their gender identity is not real”, if they say prayers that “ask for a person to not act on their attractions”, or “talk about a person’s brokenness or need to repent”.

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission even suggests alternative ways that Christian residents of Victoria can “continue practicing your faith without causing harm”, including petitions that are reassuring that someone is perfect just the way they are, and other similarly formulated prayers that sound like lyrics from Ed Sheeran’s back catalogue.