Integration Minister Roderic O’Gorman has committed to bringing forward plans this year to ban the use of conversion therapy for gay people.
The Green Party TD also told the Irish Mirror legislation will be put in place that could outlaw socio-economic discrimination that sees people disadvantaged for their address or their accents.
Mr O’Gorman, who is gay, previously branded conversion therapy “a cruel process rooted in the promotion of shame”.
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He said Ireland should join other European countries in banning the practice.
Mr O’Gorman added: “A process that seeks for somebody to change their sexual orientation or gender identity is extremely exploitative, particularly if undertaken on someone under 18.
“I’d hope to bring the legislation into the Dail next year.
“Obviously, legislation takes time but I think it’s possible we could have it passed by the end of the year. That’s certainly what I’d be working towards, but it could drift into 2024.
“I have met people who have been subjected to conversion therapy.
“It doesn’t happen a lot in Ireland, but when it does happen, its impact can be really devastating on people.
“Particularly on young people who are just coming out and exploring or understanding their own sexual identity.
“To masquerade where they’re unhappy or nervous that that can be changed, I think it’s just so exploitative.
“From the point of view of having some understanding of the damage that it can do to people, it is something I feel strongly about and something I really want to progress as Equality Minister.”
Mr O’Gorman’s other priorities for this year include reforming equality legislation.
The focus will be to ensure people cannot be discriminated against based on how they speak or where they live.
It follows on from reviews to the Employment Equality Act.
He continued: “One of the things we’re looking at is creating a new ground for equality cases on socio-economic discrimination, recognising that people are often discriminated against on the grounds of their address or their accents.
“That’s maybe a more pernicious type of discrimination, but one that very much exists.
“We’re looking to bring forward mechanisms that [mean] just as no one should be discriminated against on grounds of their race or sexual orientation, they shouldn’t be discriminated against on socio-economic grounds either.” Halfway through his tenure in Government, Mr O’Gorman points to the Birth Information and Tracing Act and the Institutional Burials Bill as some of his achievements to date.
It was decided ahead of the reshuffle that Green ministers would remain in their roles.
He explained: “I’m pleased to be in a department dealing with issues that I feel very passionately about.
“These are the issues that have been central to my involvement in politics all my life.”
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