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Christian group accused of promoting conversion therapy met by rainbow wave of peaceful protesters

Vic Parsons December 9, 2019
Pride in Surrey

Peaceful protest against anti-LGBT+ religious group in Surrey at the weekend. (Pride in Surrey)

A meeting of a Christian group accused of handing out leaflets promoting conversion therapy at LGBT+ events has been protested by Pride in Surrey.

Members of the Bethel Christian Assembly attended the recent Winter Pride and also the inaugural Pride in Surrey, and were seen approaching a number of LGBT+ people and handing them literature and talking about conversion therapy.

The religious group allegedly told these LGBT+ people that being gay is wrong and can be cured.

A small group of people organised by Pride in Surrey peacefully protested a meeting of the Bethel Christian Assembly on 8 December in Shalford, a small Surrey village.

“Safe spaces for LGBTQ+ people are still needed as there is still misunderstanding of the community, hate directed at us and people who believe we should be made to be cisgender and heterosexual,” said Vikki Cole, Pride in Surrey’s safeguarding lead, who was at the protest.

“When people with any of these views come into safe spaces and tell people they can make them cisgender or heterosexual, or show hate of any kind, this means we cannot keep people safe in our spaces,” she added.

“We have a duty to ensure our events are safe for those attending, including emotionally safe. Preaching anti-LGBTQ messages to people who may have already experienced hate and rejection by religious communities becomes a safeguarding concern when this can directly impact a person’s mental health and wellbeing.”

At the protest, members of the Bethel Christian Assembly came out to speak to the protestors, and confirmed that they believed lesbian and gay people should not choose this way of life and that the LGBTQ+ community are sinning but can be cured.

Gay conversion therapy is still legal in the UK, despite being condemned by all major counselling and psychotherapy bodies, as well as the NHS.

The Conservatives put banning conversion therapy in their LGBT Action Plan in 2018, but are yet to implement the ban.

Stephen Ireland, founder of Pride in Surrey, said: “Everyone is loved and should be respected for who they want to be. We respect everyone with Pride previously welcoming both Christians at Pride and Muslims at Pride to our events.

“We would never enter anyone’s safe space or place of worship with a negative intent so we are really disappointed to hear about the things they were preaching in what was a safe space for the whole LGBTQ+ community and allies.”

More: bethel christian assembly, conversion therapy, Pride in Surrey, stephen ireland

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