Scottish Government plans to ban conversion therapy could be a “backdoor conduit for self-ID,” a Conservative MSP has said.

Speaking at a fringe event at the Scottish Tory conference in Aberdeen, Rachael Hamilton suggested the legislation could ultimately criminalise anyone who suggested someone was not the sex they said they were.

She was supported by Malcolm Clark, from the LGB Alliance, who agreed that the SNP-Green government was trying to introduce “gender identity by the back door.”

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The legislation is still being developed, but the central proposal in a consultation document released earlier this year is for a new criminal offence of engaging in conversion practice “whether that is provided by a healthcare practitioner, a family member or a religious leader”.

The paper defines conversion practices as where there is “a purpose or intention to change or suppress another individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity".

It then gives several examples, including 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.

It also suggests making it an offence to restrict where a person goes, who they see and how they dress.

Any such action would become illegal with one possible punishment being "imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years."

Mr Clark said conversion therapy was a problem in some parts of the world, but not in the UK where clinical services were much more regulated.

"I mean, it might be a problem in America, but the way the LGBTQ lobby has approached is a hysterical sort of exaggeration of a problem. It isn't really a major problem or even a minor problem in Britain."

He added: “The problem is this is really about introducing gender identity by the back door. The ridiculous irony is there really is a problem with conversion therapy in this country, but it’s happening in gender identity clinics where young, troubled children are going and being told ‘yes, you’re in the wrong body, here’s some puberty blockers’.”

He added: “What it's doing is taking troubled, confused teenagers - like we all were whether straight gay, whatever - foisting this ludicrous notion in their heads, that their discomfort with their bodies is something to do with their being inhabited by different sex. What this bill will do is enforce that.”

One party member asked the panel if they thought Conversion Therapy could be a campaigning issue.

Meghan Gallacher, the deputy chair, said her party were hearing about conversion therapy and gender recognition reform on the doorstep.

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“I think they will become issues. I'm not entirely sure how prominent they will focus, but if it gets as toxic as what the Gender Recognition Reform Bill did, then you betcha, its going to be on every single media platform.

"That just means that we have got to make sure that we are the voice of reason, make sure that we are not descending into the playground politics of the Scottish Greens and others.”

She added: “We're finding groups that would never been associated with the Scottish conservatives before now actually knocking on the door because we are the only ones that are prepared to listen.

“You see it with Scottish Labour and the SNP. You could really fit a fag paper in between their policies.”

However, her colleague Russell Findlay said it was unlikely to be a vote winner.

He pointed to Thomas Kerr, the Tory candidate in the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election, who was the only representative from a main party to take part in a hustings organised by a gender-critical feminist group.

However, the party had a disastrous result, with the Glasgow Councillor losing his deposit.

“Of course, there are many, many moving parts, but that might suggest that it's not as big an issue electorally,” Mr Findlay said.

Councillor Blair Anderson, who describes himself as a survivor of conversion therapy, criticised the comments from Mr Clark.

He told the Scotsman: “For a group that claims to care about lesbian, gay and bisexual people, to call survivors of homophobic abuse ‘hysterical’ is a disgusting insult and shows that they are no friend or ally to the overwhelming majority of the LGBT+ community who want conversion therapy banned for all.

“Speaking as a gay man whose childhood, health, family and faith was taken from me because of homophobic conversion therapy - if the LGB Alliance don’t think that conversion therapy is an issue, that speaks volumes about where their priorities lie and it’s not in protecting lesbian, gay or bi people.”