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Weir defends McCausland over 'gay therapy' row


Nelson McCausland

Nelson McCausland

Nelson McCausland

The Education Minister has defended former DUP MLA Nelson McCausland in a row over a Facebook post in which he appeared to support gay conversion therapy.

While Peter Weir stressed he opposes the practice, he argued that the post "does not refer to conversion therapy".

Mr McCausland faced calls to resign from his position as a DUP nomination on the board of the Education Authority for sharing an article from a Christian website about a man who claimed to have been gay until he "met Jesus".

There was widespread criticism of the post and LGBT campaigners accused him of promoting "conversion therapy practices".

Mr McCausland denied this, saying the article was about the "life-transforming power of the Gospel" and the person interviewed "had not undergone any therapy".

Mr Weir said he was against gay conversion therapy, but spoke up for his former colleague.

"Nelson's posting, and indeed the article referred to, does not refer to conversion therapy," he told Belfast Live.

In his Facebook post sharing the article, Mr McCausland wrote: "A powerful testimony of a life changed by God and some important insights into the whole 'gay movement' from someone who has been there."

Mr Weir added: "I think that the article that was shared by Nelson was one about the personal testimony of an individual who had found the Lord.

"I think, possibly, where people have conflated something is where the conversion of somebody to being a Christian has been equated to conversion therapy, which are two completely different things.

"And I noticed a number of representatives have accused Nelson of promoting conversion therapy.

"That clearly shows either they haven't read the article before they've commented on it, or they are deliberately misreading or misleading people.

"I think we do have to have a situation where people can share testimony, where people can actually share their beliefs in the public sphere.

"If we're to say that whether someone agrees or disagrees with them that they're not allowed to do that, I think that's a very dangerous road to go down.

"What happens within anybody's life or their own thoughts or feelings is a matter, really, for themselves."

One of those critical of Mr McCausland, Alliance councillor Eoin Tennyson, said he was "not angry" but "more despondent and upset that this is happening again".

"To anyone out there struggling, you are not the problem," he said. "There is nothing wrong with you. You can be gay and Christian if you want."

Belfast Telegraph

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