‘All reflecting God the Creator’

From Seeds April – May 2024

Members of AUC, including the Revd Fiona Bennett, were among faith leaders and representatives who took part in a day to discuss the Scottish Government’s new draft Bill and Proposals to end conversion practices in Scotland.

The Equality Network, a leading national LGBTI equality and campaign organisation in Scotland, brought together the participants, who also included LGBTQA+ survivors of conversion practices.

The purpose of the event was to facilitate a sensitive, productive and informed discussion about the legislation being proposed by the Scottish Government to end conversion practices. Together, the group considered the proposals and shared support for the community and for finally seeing an end to these practices in Scotland.

One participant in the day was a friend of AUC, the Revd Dr Alex Clare-Young, who is moderator of the Iona Community’s LGBTQ+ Common Concern Network. They said:

‘As a trans, queer survivor of conversion practices in Scotland and as an ordained minister it gives me hope for the futures of faith communities and of LGBTQ+ people to be a part of respectful, open and rigorous conversations that enable transformation and justice.’

Also present was the Revd Elder Cecilia Eggleston, Moderator of Metropolitan Community Church (MCC). During worship at AUC the day before, Cecilia had spoken warmly of the Scottish government’s approach, and expressed regret that the UK government in Westminster has put the issue ‘on the back burner’. Following the consultation, she said:

‘The proactive stance taken by the Scottish Government on conversion practices is supported by Metropolitan Community Churches. As a denomination, we have campaigned against such practices around the world and welcome Scotland’s commitment to making sure every LGBTQIA+ person is able to live as themselves, fully and without fear.’

‘Conversion practices do terrible harm to individuals on two levels. Firstly, they can cause profound trauma and distress to the person on the receiving end of the attempts to change who they are. Secondly, they often drive these individuals from faith communities that they love, where they have friends and family. The faith community also suffers, as they lose those who would otherwise stay and be active participants.’

‘It is encouraging to see increasing numbers of faith communities recognising the breadth of human sexuality and gender identity – all reflecting God the Creator.’

Cecilia’s words have since been echoed in a statement from the Church of Scotland, which has responded favourably to the proposed legislation and said its understanding has been ‘deepened by hearing the experiences of survivors of conversion practices’.

Dr Rebecca Crowther, the recently appointed CEO of Equality Network, chaired the event, which looked at key points relating to the legislation. These include a transinclusive ban on conversion practices, and the inclusion of ‘suppression’ in the definition of conversion practices. The group also discussed the need to ensure that ‘consent’ is not a defence, and that there is clear protection of freedom of religion and belief and freedom of expression. They affirmed the need for a Bill that will protect all in the community from the harm that conversion practices cause.