Conversion Practices and Where to Get Support

We explain what conversion practices are and what to do if you, or someone you know, is experiencing conversion practices.

What are conversion practices?

Conversion practices refer to any treatment, practice or effort that aims to change, suppress and/or eliminate a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression.

A person cannot consent to conversion practices being carried out against them.

There is no proof that conversion practices work and they can have a lifelong impact on the mental and physical wellbeing of those who are subjected to them. This can often lead to poor mental health, low self-esteem and difficulty forming relationships.

Conversion practices can take place in different locations. A common place it’s associated with is in religious settings, but they can take place in many different environments. At home, within health care or even abroad, where and what happens can look different depending on the situation but conversion practices try and change (or suppress) a person’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

Put simply if someone persistently says that you aren’t lesbian, gay, or bi, tries to make you straight, or tries to stop you from being trans, that is classed as conversion practices.

How to identify behaviours of conversion practices

Some things that conversion practices may do include: 

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

Although these are some of the behaviours that could be shown, there are plenty more that could be questioned. If you are unsure if a group is doing something that could be classed as conversion practices, it’s best to get in touch with the support networks below and discuss it with them.

What to do if you, or someone you know, is experiencing conversion practices

In Scotland and the UK, many acts that would be considered as conversion practices are already criminalised, but not all aspects are. 

In January 2024, the Scottish Government began a consultation on its proposed legislation to end conversion practices. You can read the Scottish Government’s paper outlining its proposals here.

If you, or someone you know, is experiencing conversion practices you can contact the support lines below. Although it might seem scary to get in touch with someone to talk about what’s going on it’s important to share this information so you can get help if needed.

These organisations are there to support you or whoever might be in need. So even if you’re unsure about something and just want more information, they can support with that as well.

Where to get support

LGBT Health and Wellbeing  have a dedicated support line where you can get support and information.

They are available by phone or livechat during their opening hours which are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays (12-9pm) and Sundays (1-6pm)

Childline Support for anyone under 19 years old and open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

Breathing Space provide free, confidential, phone service for anyone in Scotland over the age of 16 experiencing low mood, depression or anxiety.

  • Open Monday – Thursday 6pm – 2am and from 6pm on Friday to 6am on Monday.
  • Call: 0800 83 85 87

You can find more contacts for support and information on this page of our website.

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