The Scottish Government has insisted that they are still in “listening mode” over the planned conversion therapy ban, suggesting some of the measures proposed could be watered down. 

A spokesperson told a briefing for journalists on Wednesday afternoon that there was “an open door to anybody who wants to come and speak to us and discuss their concerns".

A public consultation launched last week triggered a number of criticisms, particularly over fears it could accidentally criminalise parents and professionals.

READ MORE: Proposals to ban conversion therapy published by Scottish Government

The 86-page proposal document defines conversion practices as those where there is “a purpose or intention to change or suppress another individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity".

The paper gives several examples of “types of acts that could be motivated by an intention to suppress another person’s sexual orientation or gender identity".

They include prescribing medication to suppress a person’s sex drive, or therapy or counselling that requires a person not to act on their same-sex attraction, including through celibacy, restricting where a person goes and who they see, and controlling a person’s appearance.

It would create a new criminal offence of engaging in conversion practice.

The Scottish Government said it would only be a crime if it could be proved that the person carrying out the practices “did so with the intention that the sexual orientation or gender identity of the victim would be changed or suppressed".

Prosecutors would also have to show that “either the provision of a service or coercive course of behaviour took place".

However, it would also be a crime to take a person out of Scotland with the intention of engaging in conversion practices, even if those conversion practices did not take place.

The document said those accused would have a defence if their actions could be proven to be "reasonable in the particular circumstances".

While the Scottish government has no statistics on the number of people subjected to conversion practices or groups using these methods, it pointed to UK government's 2017 online National LGBT Survey, which found that of 108,000 self-selecting LGBTI respondents, 2.4% had received "conversion" or "reparative" therapy to cure them of being gay.

READ MORE: Conversion therapy: Minister accuses SNP MSP of supporting torture

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said ministers were keen to engage with people on the planned ban.

“There’s obviously the formal written consultation process to which anybody can write and respond,” she said.

“The team in the Government and ministers are engaging one-to-one at the moment and for the next three months with a whole range of stakeholders.

“There’s an open door to anybody who wants to come and speak to us and discuss their concerns."

The spokesperson was asked if the legislation would criminalise parents who do not let their child dress as the opposite gender, or who do not let them take puberty blockers, or wear a breast binder.

She said: “The proposals don't prevent guidance, advice, questioning or making decisions about a child's welfare that are not harmful or coercive.”

The official added: “We are not intending to get into that space where parents are guiding, advising, supporting children in these processes.

“Again, there's also this defence about reasonableness in the circumstances that would be arguable in these situations where parents might be concerned, taking normal parental decisions around the child.”

The spokesperson said she recognised the concern that’s being expressed, "and we’re reflecting."

“Our current analysis is that the provisions don’t bring in a serious risk of that, but I’m listening to the concerns that are being expressed by people who are bringing those concerns.”

She said the intention was not to address “parental advice, discussion, day-to-day parental controls".

She added: “We are intending to address acts that are in the more abusive space. But we’re going to reflect on all the feedback that’s received as part of the consultation process.”

The consultation will close on April 2.