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Scotland’s ruling political group, the Scottish National Party (SNP), has proposed another series of laws that aim to shore up protection for transgendered people, including a ban on conversion therapy and jail time for parents who try to block their child’s transition. 

‘We have grave concerns that these plans will criminalize loving parents, who could face years in jail simply for refusing to sign up to the gender ideology cult,’ Marion Calder, a director for the group For Women Scotland, said of the proposal. 

‘They will also hand activists and social workers unprecedented powers to meddle in family life while having a chilling impact on therapists and counselors,’ Calder added. ‘If SNP and Greens insist on pushing this through, it is likely to go the same way as the toxic self-identification and named person laws and be blocked in the courts.’ 

People who try to ‘change or suppress’ another individual’s gender identity – in the process, causing them physical or psychological harm – would face criminal charges under the new proposals put forward on Tuesday, The Daily Telegraph reported. 

Such examples include preventing someone from ‘dressing in a way that reflects their sexual orientation or gender identity’ and controlling a person’s activities. Complaints must provide proof of intent or demonstrated harm to incur punishment. 

The law applies even when a person argues they have acted out of a ‘desire to help or protect the person.’ 

The SNP launched a consultation period that will last until April 2: Voters and concerned parties can review the proposal and lodge complaints. The Catholic Church in Scotland has already raised concerns over a ‘worrying lack of clarity’ in the proposals and announced it will prepare for legal action, The Guardian reported. 

The advocacy group Christian Action, Research and Education (CARE) accused the bill of laying the groundwork for ‘subjective policing of speech.’ 

‘At CARE for Scotland, we recognize that abusive or coercive ‘practices,’ ‘treatments’ or ‘therapies’ aimed at changing a person’s identity are wrong and a source of deep hurt to those who experience them,’ the group wrote in a statement issued after the proposal’s publication. ‘These things are rightly condemned, can already be reported to the police for investigation, and would already constitute a crime under existing provisions.’

‘The need for new legislation, and the wider impact of new laws must be carefully assessed,’ the group argued. ‘Senior legal professionals and others are concerned that the proposals in question risk being overbroad in their application, undermining human rights. In particular, the right to a private and family life, freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and freedom of expression.’

‘Given these concerns, and the efficacy of existing, well-understood laws targeting harmful behavior, we question the need for the proposed ban,’ the group said. 

Anyone breaching a civil order, such as the one proposed by the SNP, could see the offender face two years in jail, with the maximum punishment of up to seven years in jail or an ‘unlimited fine,’ according to the Telegraph. 

Scottish Minister for Equalities, Migration and Refugees Emma Roddick urged faith groups to engage with the government. No one will face punishment for ‘expressing concerns’ and ‘advising a child against medical interventions’ or ‘not actively supporting’ a child’s decision to dress for the gender they wish to express. 

The Guardian noted that the upcoming general election makes it less likely for Westminster to veto the proposal, as it had with Scotland’s effort to pass the gender recognition reform bill. 

The previous gender bill, put forward by former Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in 2023, would have allowed children as young as 16 to change gender. 

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak shelved a planned ban in England on conversion therapy, with the Conservative party split over how to deal with the proposal, which former Prime Minister Theresa May had supported. 

Questions sent to the Scottish National Party for comment were not answered by press time.

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