Belfast Telegraph

Councillor urges Northern Ireland ‘gay cure’ ban

By Steven Alexander

The first openly gay mayor in Northern Ireland has urged the UK Health Secretary to extend any future ban of so-called 'gay conversion therapy' to Northern Ireland.

Alliance councillor Andrew Muir has written to Jeremy Hunt in the wake of the Government's £4.5m LGBT action plan, which branded so-called 'gay cure' conversion therapies "abhorrent" and aims to ban them.

Theresa May said earlier this week: "We are going to bring forward proposals to end the disgusting practice of conversion therapy, which has no place in modern Britain."

But with the Assembly in limbo and the Government unwilling to intervene in devolved matters, it is unlikely the ban would be extended to Northern Ireland.

However, Mr Muir said it is essential that Northern Ireland is included. He added: "I welcome this commitment after many reports in recent years citing the harmful impact of such practices which perpetuate the lie that being lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans is somehow an illness requiring a cure, when it's actually perfectly normal and natural."

"It is essential the proposed legislation is extended to Northern Ireland, and while some may attempt to block this through their own bias or on the ground of religious freedom, I would remind them of the very harmful impact of such activities. If LGBT people in Northern Ireland are to be genuinely valued as equal citizens, the legislation must be extended to this part of the UK.

"Failure to include Northern Ireland would be a complete injustice and travesty for Northern Ireland to be left out and such practices outlawed everywhere else other than the place I am proud to call home."

The Government's initiative aims to make society more inclusive for the LGBT community.

On Tuesday Lord Smith, who made history in 1984 when he became the first openly gay male MP, said: "Embedded in it is the valuable recognition that there is still far too much discrimination and hostility faced by LGBT people across the country."

He also told peers: "Can I urge the Government to take one further step, which is to ensure that full equality becomes available to LGBT people across the entirety of the United Kingdom, including in Northern Ireland."

However, a Northern Ireland-based Christian group which counsels gay people to "move away from homosexual influences" has said the proposed ban is "a denial of fundamental human rights". The Core Issues Trust is headed by Ballynahinch man Mike Davidson (63), who says LGBT people "can choose not to live out homosexuality".

Belfast Telegraph

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