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Anti-LGBT+ Christian group accused of ‘actively promoting gay conversion therapy’ while masquerading as a charity

Lily Wakefield May 13, 2020
conversion therapy

The group refers to being gay as "same sex attraction disorder (SSAD)". (Core Issues Trust/ Facebook)

A Christian non-profit has been accused of promoting gay conversion therapy by campaigners, who are calling for its charitable status to be reevaluated.

Core Issues Trust, based in Northern Ireland, says it is a “non-profit Christian ministry supporting men and women with homosexual issues who voluntarily seek change in sexual preference and expression”.

The group believes “that the Scriptures clearly teach both that sexual relationships outside of marriage between a man and a woman fall short of the will of God, and that that marriage is between one man and one woman”.

It also states “that the Church of Jesus Christ, when true to the scriptures, properly provides a spiritual home and sensitive support for believers and seekers who struggle with issues of sexual brokenness, including homosexuality”.

Core Issues Trust thinks same-sex attraction is a disorder.

Although Core Issues Trust claims to “respect the rights of individuals who identify as ‘gay’ who do not seek change”, it teaches that anyone who is not straight or cisgender is “tampering with the foundations of human existence and its created order”.

Its website refers to homosexuality as “same sex attraction disorder (SSAD)” and offers “change oriented therapy”.

The group claims that there is “no evidence” to suggest that conversion therapy is harmful, although all major UK health organisations have denounced the practice as damaging pseudoscience.

A UK survey conducted last year found that one in five people who had been through conversion therapy later attempted suicide.

‘Gay conversion therapy’ charity faces having its status revoked.

The National Secular Society (NSS) has now written to the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland calling for a reevaluation of the charitable status of Core Issues Trust, according to the Belfast Telegraph.

Addressing the letter to chief charity commissioner Nicole Lappin, communities minister Deirdre Hargey and health minister Robin Swann, the NSS said: “Given that this practice can cause individuals significant mental health issues and harms society by reinforcing stigmas against LGBT+ people, we believe a clear tension exists between the public benefit requirement and the promotion of ‘conversion therapy’.

“Organisations that serve no clear public benefit — or worse, cause harm by actively promoting ‘conversion therapy’ — risk fundamentally undermining public confidence in the charitable sector.”

NSS chief executive Stephen Evans added: “Bogus therapies which encourage people to change or suppress their sexuality are harmful and widely discredited.

“Those promoting them shouldn’t enjoy the tax breaks and public recognition that charitable status brings.”

The NSS has also called for “the advancement of religion” to no longer be considered a “charitable purpose”.

The Charity Commission said it would consider the letter carefully.

A spokesperson said: “The purpose of charity law is not to say if a certain belief is right or wrong. The definition of a charity in law says that you must be established for exclusively charitable purposes.

“A purpose must be beneficial, not harmful. If any organisation, including a religious one, requires improper pressure to be placed on people to remain within that organisation against their will, or completely withdraw from society, then there is likely to be more harm than benefit.

“A purpose must also not promote hatred towards others who do not share the same religion. The commission is considering in detail the issues raised.”

A spokesperson for the Core Issues Trust said the group was “looking forward” to engaging with the Charity Commission.

More: Charity, conversion therapy, core issues trust, Northern Ireland, same sex attraction disorder, ssad

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