Have Your Say: Ending Conversion Practices

Content warning: this article talks about physical and sexual abuse as well as themes of homo, bi and transphobia. For sources of support, please see the end of the article.

Conversion practices can be really dangerous for people of all ages as they are harmful and abusive – with long lasting consequences.


They can take place in different places like religious settings, the home, within health care or even abroad. What happens can look very different, but conversion practices try and change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation and / or gender identity. They can happen in a number of different ways, but may include:

  • Group prayer or exorcisms
  • Shaming
  • Being denied food or other necessities
  • Physical or sexual abuse

Sometimes a person can feel they want to undertake this process as they may have been told it will help them or they might think it will help them fit in. But a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity are unique and shouldn’t be influenced by anyone.

Support in exploring and understanding both sexual orientation and gender identity can help people to understand their feelings and experiences. However a key difference when accessing other support is that the person helping them should not have an outcome they are trying to reach (eg making someone ‘straight’ or ‘cis’).

We are pleased that the Scottish Government took the advice of the Scottish Parliament and are now looking at how to end conversion practices in Scotland. To help make sure they get it right, they have launched a consultation. We want to add your voice to lots of other LGBTQ+ young people in Scotland to ensure the Government hear what you think.

We have a short survey where you can tell us what you think:


Our friends at LGBT Health and Wellbeing have a dedicated support line – see here for more details.


Other sources of help:

  • Childline is open 24/7 and you can talk to a Childline Counsellor over the phone, email or live chat. Visit https://childline.org.uk or call 0800 1111.
  • Breathing Space Scotland provides mental health support through a phone helpline. Visit https://breathingspace.scot or call 0800 83 85 87.
  • HopelineUK is aimed at preventing young suicide and you can speak to them on the phone or over email. Visit https://papyrus-uk.org/hopelineuk or call 0800 068 41 41.
  • The Mix provides advice to young people via a phone line, email support and live chat. Visit https://themix.org.uk or call 0808 808 4994.
  • Samaritans are open 24/7 and they focus on suicide prevention. Visit https://samaritans.org or call 116 123.
  • In emergencies, please call 999 immediately.