Expert warns battle against gender-issue therapy likely violates human rights law

 March 2, 2024

This story was originally published by the WND News Center.

A key human rights lawyer is warning that the current agenda by leftists to attack and destroy any counseling that offers help for those with unwanted same-sex attractions and the like probably violates international human rights laws.

The comments from Jason Coppell, KC, come just as the United Kingdom's lawmakers are preparing to consider a bill that would outlaw "conversion therapy."

Such counseling is not a "conversion therapy" but mostly includes a series of discussions in which someone with those unwanted attractions or feelings is counseled on how to deal with them.

The LGBT community worldwide repeatedly has condemned and attacked such therapy, and the therapists who offer those patients help, because of their ideology that their LGBT identity is innate.

Recognizing the fact that such therapy helps some individuals destroys the claim that those feelings are unchangeable.

It is the Christian Institute commissioned the opinion from Coppell.

Coppell said of the private member's bill, "I consider that the Bill… if passed, would constitute a serious intrusion into the legitimate activities and practices of Christian churches and religious communities, which would be contrary to their rights protected by the ECHR, and so to the Human Rights Act 1998. They would also interfere with the legitimate expression of gender-critical views, again in a manner which would be likely to breach ECHR rights."

He continued, "The Bill [is] broad in scope. [It] would apply both to practices which seek to ‘change’ sexual orientation or transgender identity and practices which seek to ‘suppress’ sexual orientation or transgender identity i.e., to change conduct. [It] would apply to acts which cause no injury or distress; and, indeed, to acts to which the person in question consents. [It] would apply across a wide range of settings, including social and religious settings (although, the Bill … would exempt at least some conduct of parents vis-à-vis their children). Whilst some attempt has been made to craft exemptions or exceptions to ensure that the practice of religion is not prohibited, the central prohibition in the Bill …remains a wide one, applying to churches and other religious organizations, and those expressing certain views, including gender-critical views, outside those settings."

Such attacks on talk therapy have become common across the United States, with multiple jurisdictions adopting laws that ban counselors from talking to patients about leaving an LGBT lifestyle but allowing them to encourage those very choices.

Coppell said, "The Bill …would if enacted, interfere with a number of rights protected by the ECHR. [It] would (by way of example) restrict the ability of religious organizations to express their beliefs (both within their communities and to the wider world) and the ability of gender-critical persons to express their beliefs to persons who profess a gender identity that is inconsistent with those beliefs. Such restrictions are likely to interfere with (at least) the right to respect for private and family life (Article 8 ECHR); the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion (Article 9 ECHR); the right to freedom of expression (Article 10 ECHR); and the right to freedom of assembly and association (Article 11 ECHR)."

Coppell is known for his role in leading court cases dealing with Brexit and COVID.

He concluded, 'It is very difficult to see how the wide-ranging interference with fundamental rights contemplated by the Bill …could be justified. Put shortly, the Bill …would criminalize expressions of personal conviction even if they are made without expressions of hatred or intolerance, or improper purpose or coercion, or abuse of power. Restrictions of that nature run contrary to the consistent case law of the European Court of Human Rights."

Simon Calvert, of the institute, said, "If passed this would result in criminalizing Christians and gender-critical parents for conversations which most people would consider perfectly reasonable. This is not about protecting people from abuse. That is already illegal. … It is about punishing people for talking."

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