The Scottish Government is committed to a ban on conversion therapy, Health  Secretary Neil Gray has said. 

He described the legislation as "important."

The comments come after Dr Hilary Cass told MSPs on Tuesday that clinicians were worried about prosecution if the new law comes in.

READ MORE: Greens warn new SNP leader against 'diluting' conversion therapy ban

A Scottish Government consultation document released earlier this year proposed 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.

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

Dr Cass, the paediatrician behind a landmark review on the treatment of transgender children said that while conversion therapy was “completely unacceptable” MSPs needed to take care not to bring in legislation which would deter clinicians from having “appropriate exploratory conversations” or make them “even more anxious potentially about working in this area”.

The Scottish Greens have warned Mr Swinney against "diluting" the "watertight" conversion therapy ban.

Speaking to BBC Scotland's Sunday Show, Mr Gray said the government was looking at the responses to the recent consultation and would “reflect upon them.”

“But we're committed to continuing with that legislation because it's an important piece of legislation,” he added.

The comments comes amid reports that the new SNP leader could be set to roll back on a number of promises made during the days of the Bute House Agreement, including on key Green party policies like rent controls and the decarbonisation of home heating.

Mr Gray told BBC Scotland’s Sunday Show: “I'm very pleased at the way John has started his tenure as First Minister. Looking to reach out has meant that we've had a huge amount of positivity both within the party, but I feel also within the country around the direction of travel and where we can, go what we can achieve.”

He said that despite all of Humza Yousaf’s Cabinet Secretaries remaining in post, Mr Swinney’s appointment as First Minister would mean the government “refocusing” and “taking forward those areas we're already working on but reprioritising and making sure that we're finding consensus across the parliament.”

Speaking to the programme later, Liz Lloyd, who served as Nicola Sturgeon’s chief of staff, said she did not think Mr Swinney would necessarily bin policies just because they were associated with the Greens.

“They're forgetting that some of those policies the entire SNP was elected on, including people like Kate Fobres, and that some of them are necessary.

“So there's talk about dumping policies to decarbonise our homes. Well, there has to be some policy to do that otherwise, the climate targets that we've already missed, are definitely going to be missed the next time.

“So you can dump the existing proposal, but what are you going to do instead?”

She said Mr Swinney would have to balance economic issues with social issues.

“We're was still concerned about people who are living in poverty, we're still concerned about the environment, and it's a challenge that they're going to have to deal with how they continue to pursue those policies without letting them be the dominant part of the debate and keeping the political focus on the economic side.”

READ MORE: First Minister John Swinney eyes Bute House policy cull

During his interview, Mr Gray was also asked about NHS reform.

He said he was “open to ideas” on the future of Scotland’s NHS as long as they do not cross red lines on keeping the health service in public hands and free at the point of use.

Last year, the former chief executive of NHS Scotland, Professor Paul Gray, told the BBC that the health service in its current form is not sustainable and called for a "mature debate" on the role that the private sector could play.

He said: "What we can't afford is just to carry on as we are and hope for the best. The consequence is that everything slowly gets worse."

Mr Gray told the BBC: “I've already set a paper to cabinet setting out the national conversation that I wish to have with the people of Scotland, with staff, trade unions, expert academics, our other colleagues across Parliament around how we take our health service forward.”

He added: “I'm relatively open to ideas as long as they don't cross the red lines that I have, but I think also the people of Scotland have, around making sure that our NHS remains in public hands and that remains it free at the point of use, of the point of delivery.

Aside from that, I'm relatively pragmatic around what else we can do to make sure we drive that improvement and sustainability for our health service.”

Mr Gray said he wanted to “harness” some of the “incredible work being done on innovation and medical devices from the private sector.”

“Because there are many Scottish businesses and academics that are working on these improvements that can help ensure that our NHS moves forward.

“We can improve the care that's been given. That's very different from compromising on free at the point of use.”