May 28, 2019 @ 12:30 pm – 2:00 pm
Teaching Room 01, Old College, South Bridge, Edinburgh, EH8 9YL

with Craig Purshouse

Talk Title: Is Gay ‘Conversion Therapy’ Negligent? 


So-called gay ‘conversion therapy’ involves efforts to change someone’s sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual. Although the leading professional bodies are opposed to the practice and the Government’s LGBT Action Plan proposes to prohibit it, many religious groups still offer this form of ‘therapy’. This paper will consider whether the common law of negligence can provide a remedy to those who have suffered harm after undergoing ‘conversion therapy’. I will demonstrate that tort doctrine relating to actionable damage, the standard of care, causation may mean the law of negligence is ill-equipped to compensating the victims of ‘conversion therapy’. I conclude that this is symptomatic of broader problems with law of tort’s emphasis on personal responsibility, autonomy and corrective justice and suggest alternative legal mechanisms for reducing or preventing the practice.

Speaker’s Short Bio

Dr Craig Purshouse is a Lecturer in Law at the University of Leeds. His research interests are in torts law and medical law. He is a member of the Editorial Board of the Medical Law Review and his research has been cited by the Court of Appeal of Singapore and the United Kingdom Supreme Court.

Respondent: TBC

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Human health is essential for the enjoyment and maximisation of almost all human activities. As our health futures rapidly evolve alongside great medical, scientific, and technological advancement, we are faced with the obligation to both protect patients and promote ethical research. How to successfully navigate these interconnected and complex relationships is a challenge not yet met. The Mason Institute is at the forefront of research into the protection and promotion of human health. The MI Lunch Series reaches across the boundaries of discipline and institution to directly engage with crucial human health actors – researchers, practitioners, policymakers, patients, and the public – to exploit on-going research and explore this challenge.
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MI Lunch Seminar with Craig Purshouse