June 23, 2021
Sinn Féin introduce Bill to give 16 and 17 year olds the right to consent to mental health treatment – Mark Ward TD and Johnny Mythen TD

Sinn Féin TDs Mark Ward and Johnny Mythen have introduced in the Dáil this afternoon a Bill to close current legislation loopholes that allow young people in the LGBTI+ community to be subjected to conversion therapy against their will.

Currently only those aged 18 and over can consent to or refuse mental health treatment.

This can pose a significant risk to members of the LGBTI+ community who can be at danger of being subjected to conversion therapy. 

The Mental Health (Capacity to Consent) Bill 2021 would close these loopholes and give those aged 16 and 17 the right to consent. 

Speaking as he introduced the Bill this afternoon, party spokesperson on Mental Health Teachta Ward told the Dáil: 

“This is a progressive mental health Bill that acknowledges and supports our young people. 

“This Bill will give autonomy to 16 and 17 year olds and allow them to consent and avail of appropriate mental health treatment. 

“This legislation is about destigmatising mental health treatment as something that is alien to any other medical intervention. 

“Under Irish law adolescents aged 16 and 17 years can currently consent to physical and dental health treatment but do not have the explicit right to consent to mental health treatment. 

“It is very fitting that we introduce this Bill during Pride month. Conversion Therapy is not yet prohibited in this state. This is 2021 and so-called conversion therapy has no place in a modern Ireland. 

“What this Bill will do is close the loophole in the legislation that still permits 16 and 17-year-old to be subjected to conversion therapy against their will. Currently they do not have the legislative right to refuse this draconian practice. This Bill will change this. 

“The fact that Conversion Therapy has to be legislated against under Health is also wrong. This is a human rights issue not a health issue.”

Teachta Mythen told the Dáil: 

“This change will be in line with the principles of Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child- the right to be heard. This right needs to be expressly stated in mental health legislation.  

“Young people should not have to wait any longer for this long-recommended change. It is time to recognise and respect their agency, their ability and their capability and increase their legislative protections to access mental health treatment.  

“The Mental Health (Capacity to Consent) Bill 2021 above all and without prejudice gives a voice to children and gives them an equal opportunity to be heard.” 

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