Conversion therapy laws in the UK and Ireland – will we see new legislation in 2024?

30, December 2023

It’s been a busy few months for the Let Us Pray campaign, with some significant developments.

As we approach the end of 2023, here is a quick round-up of where legislation is at across the regions.

Republic of Ireland

In June, Ireland’s Equalities Minister Roderic O’Gorman received Cabinet approval in principle for his proposal to bring in a new law on conversion therapy. A draft Bill is currently being prepared ahead of pre-legislative scrutiny by a Parliamentary Committee.

It is likely to be introduced early in 2024, with a Committee taking evidence on the draft version of the Bill. It will be later in the year before a final version of a Bill is published.

UK Government

The Westminster Government also remains committed to bringing forward a draft ‘conversion therapy’ Bill for pre-legislative scrutiny. Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch told the Commons a few weeks ago that she is ‘determined’ to see it published. The draft Bill is expected to apply only to England and Wales.

But that is not the only threat we face at Westminster. There are now two Private Members’ Bills on conversion therapy. Lib Dem Peer Baroness Burt of Solihull has introduced a Bill in the Lords, which encompasses the whole of the UK and is expected to be debated in February 2024. And Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle has a Bill in the Commons, which is still to be published, but is expected to be debated in March 2024.

Legal advice from Jason Coppel KC on Baroness Burt’s Bill is clear that it offers no protection for free speech or religious freedom, but would instead interfere with rights guaranteed under the European Convention. While it is unusual for Private Members’ Bills to become law, they are a clear declaration of intent. It’s important that we oppose them every step of the way.

It is also possible that an amendment to another Government Bill could be used to bring in a ban on conversion therapy.


Wales is expected to be included within the scope of Westminster legislation because criminal justice is not devolved to the Welsh Parliament. But that hasn’t stopped the Welsh Government from promising to do anything within its powers to progress the activists’ cause, including across Health and Education.


The Scottish Government has announced it will publish its consultation on ‘ending conversion practices’ on 9 January 2024, with a view to bringing forward legislation. The consultation will run for twelve weeks and will be an important opportunity for you to make your concerns known. Please ensure you are signed up to receive our emails, as we will be in touch with advice about how to respond once the consultation is live.

Just days before a date was announced for the consultation, we launched an open letter to the Scottish Government urging it to drop its conversion therapy plans. The letter has received positive press attention and has been signed by more than 2000 people, including over 500 church leaders. If you live in Scotland, you can sign it here.

Northern Ireland

While the Westminster Government’s draft Bill is not expected to cover Northern Ireland, in the absence of a functioning devolved Assembly, it remains a possibility.

Several parties at Stormont have committed to legislating against ‘conversion therapy’. The UUP brought a motion calling for a ban in 2021. The motion received backing from Sinn Fein, Alliance and the SDLP.

The Department for Communities took up the mantle of developing legislation, and was working on proposals until the disbanding of Ministerial posts in November 2022. Several MLAs have said that should the Executive (on its return) not approve plans for a ban, they will bring forward a Private Member’s Bill on the matter.

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