image captionThe motion argues that it is “fundamentally wrong” to view the LGBTQ community as needing a “fix or cure”
Stormont politicians will debate a motion calling for a ban on gay conversion therapy “in all its forms”.
The motion on Tuesday has been proposed by Ulster Unionist assembly members (MLAs) Doug Beattie and John Stewart.
The DUP has tabled an amendment to recognise that “legitimate religious activities” do not constitute conversion therapy.
It said those include preaching, prayer and pastoral support, and argues that they “must be protected”.
The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) amendment, tabled by MLAs Pam Cameron and Robin Newton, calls for legislative options to ban the practice of conversion therapy but does not include the “fix or cure” wording.
image captionThe main motion has been brought forward by UUP MLAs Doug Beattie, pictured, and John Stewart
The term conversion therapy refers to any form of treatment or psychotherapy which aims to change a person’s sexual orientation or to suppress a person’s gender identity.
The practice is already outlawed in Switzerland and parts of Australia, Canada and the United States.
Dr Garry Adair Gilliland, who had conversion therapy in 2010-11
My experience was in a setting of a religious organisation, it was one-to-one work – it involved prayer, Bible studies and teaching around opposition to what they phrased as same-sex attraction.
It was really to reinforce that this was something that wasn’t Biblical and was to persuade but also to teach me that my homosexuality was wrong.
It is a brainwashing technique… to try [to] reinforce that shame, to make you in many ways feel like there is no way forward with your sexuality in that way.
I went through the process over a year or year and half.
At the end of it I felt like I had nowhere to go – I felt completely destroyed by it in terms of my faith and I felt completely isolated by it.
In a statement, the DUP said discrimination against someone because of their sexual orientation was wrong.
The party said it did not support gay conversion therapy but said there must be a balance between safeguarding against “dangerous practices” and any attempt “to restrict freedom of religious belief, speech and association”.
“We retain a level of concern that the debate on this important issue has at times been conflated with efforts to restrict these freedoms and constrain legitimate activities by religious organisations or others which cannot reasonably be deemed to be conversion therapy,” said the DUP.
Mike Davidson, of the Core Issues Trust, which offers therapy to gay men and women who seek a change in their sexual preference
Conversion therapy is an imposed title and one that we reject.
What I underwent was standard psycho-therapeutic and counselling support from registered psychologists and a psychiatrist – I found as I worked on my behaviours, the feelings subsided.
That is perfectly legitimate but unfortunately it has been demonised by those who put everything in one bag and call it conversion therapy.
We have to have checks and balances – we have ideological diversity here and both sides need to come to the table.
It cannot be that the LGBT community simply wipes out the ex-gay community.
This will be the first time the assembly has ever formally debated calls to ban the practice.
The motion put forward by the UUP MLAs urges the assembly to declare “that it is fundamentally wrong to view our LGBTQ community as requiring a fix or cure”.
It calls on Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey to commit to bringing forward legislation before the end of the assembly mandate to ban the practice.
PM pledges ban on ‘gay conversion therapy’
- 20 July 2020
Outlaw gay conversion therapy, minister urges
- 30 September 2020
Protest at ‘gay conversion therapy’ film
- 14 February 2019