Controversial 'gay cure' film to premiere in Northern Ireland church
A Christian group's film urging gay people not to live out their homosexuality is to have its all-Ireland premiere at a Co Down church after being turned down by cinemas in Belfast and London.
Northern Ireland group Core Issues Trust, which claims it is "challenging gender confusion", has already been refused permission to screen Voices of The Silenced at the Vue Cinema in London's Piccadilly.
The film was shown at an undisclosed London location instead, but organisers were later denied permission to hold a screening at Queen's Film Theatre in Belfast. Instead, the first-ever showing here will take place in Ballynahinch Baptist Church at 7.30pm tomorrow.
The free screening will be open to the public, with a "suggested" £10 donation for attendees.
Director of the Core Issues Trust, father-of-two Mike Davidson (63), has undergone counselling for homosexuality and been married to wife Lynore (71) for 38 years.
He believes that people with homosexual feelings are being made to feel it is "mandatory to identify as gay" and wants to screen the film across Northern Ireland. "The film is saying some people can choose not to live out their homosexuality and can deal with their feelings to the point that they can have a viable relationship with the opposite sex," he stated.
"We are saying that they are not victims, they don't have to live out those feelings. They can find ways of living that are consistent with their values."
Mr Davidson says he is "not personally worried that people who disagree with the film could picket the screening".
Reflecting on his personal experience, he says he "didn't choose" homosexual feelings but has "choice around those feelings".
"When I got married at 23 my wife was aware of my feelings, and she knew I had had sexual relationships with men," he said.
"I had therapy over two years with two psychotherapists and a psychiatrist who were supportive of my desire to explore the issues.
"I was conflicted, but I love my wife, and I'm happy with the choices I made."
However, Steve Williamson, Director of LGBT support group Cara-Friend, warned of the potential impact on "vulnerable people".
"A few years ago a lot of young people were referred for this type of so-called 'gay therapy' by parents or church elders, and it destroyed lives," he stated.
"You have people in the LGBT community who went through it a decade ago, and they are still in therapy trying to come to terms with what it did to them. Others have taken their own lives.
"It's not about religion versus gay - most gay people have a faith of their own, and most people of faith would condemn this.
"The way to deal with it is to seek counselling from mainstream professional organisations accredited by groups like the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy or the British Psychological Society."