Scottish MP for Glasgow East, John Mason, during a debate Tuesday on legislation to ban the practice of conversion therapy in the Scottish Parliament, compared it to getting therapy assistance for saying no to eating too much chocolate.
Speaking to his fellow parliamentarians Mason said sexual orientations must be accepted “to a large extent” but the argued that for conservative religious communities, being LGBTQ was an issue not dissimilar to “self-control and choosing not to put your thoughts or desires into action.”
Mason also argued that religious groups could be described as being “above and beyond the law of the land,” comparing this to bowling clubs having mandatory dress codes, and added that for those people who are religious, the word “conversion” was “good” because it meant “turning away from something bad like alcohol or drug abuse.”
Anderson, in an interview with the Daily Record this past July, described his experience as “intimate, non-physical abuse from someone who intended to ‘cure’ his homosexuality.” He told the Daily Record, “I lived in a strict religious household, and had grown up being told that being gay was a sin. When I came out, that was the response. I was told it wasn’t an option and given an ultimatum — to be gay, or disowned.
“I was only 14, a child. I was scared, and so for the next five years I repressed my sexuality. l couldn’t explore it or express it. I pretended I was straight, in relationships with girls, and couldn’t tell anyone else I was gay.”
He goes on to relate that his experience as a “more informal, intimate form of violence,” which at times left him feeling suicidal. “I endured gas lighting, bullying, harassment and isolation,” he said.
“It always took the form of a one-on-one discussion, away from the rest of the family, to talk. I was subjected to prayers in that capacity, biblical writing, teaching on a one-on-one environment. I was threatened, told that if I was to practice my homosexuality in any way, family members would die as a result — they’d be killed by God. Other controlling behavior included being denied access to healthcare,” Anderson said.
The National, a Scottish newspaper reported that Ross Greer, Greens MSP for western Scotland, said it was “wrong” to characterize the debate as being a “conflict between LGBTQ people and people of faith.” He added that most religious leaders have supported a ban on the practice.
A source in the SNP told the Washington Blade on Wednesday that Mason was oft times seen as an abomination who has only been able to keep his seat due to his longevity in the party.
“We are at a precious point in the party’s history, there is a regressive wing of the party that has been permanent throughout its recent history and, by virtue of being permanent (and arguably having paid membership fees, campaigned etc), thinks it is entitled to the present,” the source said.
“Ultimately there are more and more of the older generation who are having to reckon with the fact this party is no longer what it once was — socially conservative and anti-Europe/internationalist. Mason is someone who was part of the party when it was like that and hasn’t yet left or died. He and those like him are merely voicing the concerns of the past but increasingly irrelevant,” the source noted.
During the debate on same-sex marriage in Scotland, Mason was widely condemned for raising a motion stating that “while some in society approve of same-sex sexual relationships, others do not agree with them” and that no person or organization should be forced to be involved or to approve of same-sex marriage.
Mason’s history of inflammatory rhetoric includes most recently in June 2018, when Glasgow Live reported he responded to an email from a constituent saying he did not agree with retrospective pardons for gay men convicted of having consensual sex before decriminalization. He wrote, “I do not see that we can go round pardoning and apologizing for everything that other people did that does not conform to modern customs. Will the Italians be apologizing for the Roman occupation?”
In November 2018 he wrote a letter to the Herald newspaper to complain that transgender people “override science.” Then in January of this year Mason referred to trans women as “people whose biological sex is male” and suggested that those convicted of crimes should serve their sentences in male prisons.