THE views of people of faith must be respected in any legislation which seeks to ban conversion therapy in Scotland, according to SNP leadership candidate Kate Forbes.

Last year, the Scottish Government’s expert advisory group on ending conversion practices published a report which recommended the measures that should be taken to end conversion therapy in Scotland.

It defined conversion therapy as any practice which aimed to “change, suppress and/or eliminate a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression”.

Some faith groups have criticised the move to ban the practice, claiming that it would criminalise their religious work.

The UK Government has previously committed to implementing a ban but the Scottish Government said that it would also bring forward legislation if a UK-wide ban was not forthcoming.

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Speaking to The Scotsman on Monday, Forbes was asked for her views on the prospective ban of conversion therapy practices in Scotland.

She said: ““As somebody of faith, the concept of coercion is absolutely abhorrent. I strongly condemn the use of any coercion when it comes to people's sexuality or when it comes to people's faith.

"I would argue that in a pluralistic and tolerant society I would certainly defend to the hilt everybody's right to live and to love free of harassment.

"The conversion therapy bill hasn't been introduced yet as far as I know. But equally we should defend the rights of other minorities like people of faith, as well, when it comes to their freedom of expression, their freedom of speech and their freedom of practice.

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"I think there's a way for a bill to respect that whilst at the same time ensuring that coercion has no place in Scotland."

The Finance Secretary also cast doubt on the bill being brought forward by Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur which aims to legalise assisted dying in Scotland.

She said she had “never seen a law” on the subject with “sufficient safeguards” in place to avoid people being exploited.