A study of conversion practices in Northern Ireland

Fidelma Ashe , Danielle Mackle

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


This research was commissioned by the Cara-Friend, HEReNI, The Rainbow Project and TransgenderNI supported by funding awarded by the Department for Communities(DFC). This study aimed to develop an understanding of conversion practices in Northern Ireland (NI). Conversion practices (also known as conversion therapies, reparative therapies, and cure therapies) encompass all medical, psychological, religious, cultural,or any other interventions that seek to erase, repress, or change a person’s sexualorientation and/or gender identity. 1 Integral to these practices is the assumption or belief that LGBTQI+ identities are damaging, sinful, or the result of a ‘medical disfunction’ that can be cured. The research explored several aspects of conversion practices in the NI context, specifically why, how, and where these practices happen, who experiences them, and their effects on LGBTQI+ people.To explore these aspects of conversion practices in the region, researchers from Ulster University and Queen’s University, Belfast conducted 10 qualitative interviews with LGBTQI+ people who experienced or were offered conversion practices while resident inNI within the last 10 years. The small number of study volunteers reflects the sensitivities around conversion practices, as well as sexual orientation and gender identity, more generally, in the NI context. Four people originally interested in participating with drewdue to the stigma and trauma they had experienced through participation in conversion practices. One-to-one interviews were conducted between October 20, 2022, and13 February 2023.The research found evidence that conversion practices have been offered to LGBTQI+people and practiced in NI over the last 10 years. Study participants identified conversion practices offered to or conducted on young adults and children in spiritual, health, and educational settings. The study participants provided insight into why they became participants in conversion practices. Practices were promoted or conducted by qualified and unqualified individuals. These practices were advertised publicly, or conversely, performed in a clandestine way. Participants identified a range of harm caused by participation in conversion practices. 2 As such, this research reflects findings similar to those of cross-country studies of conversion practices. Based on the research findings, the report authors recommend bringing forward legislation to legally ban conversion practices in NI.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherDepartment for Communities
Commissioning bodyRainbow Project, NI
Number of pages37
Publication statusPublished - 14 May 2024


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