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‘Draconian’ DUP education official faces searing backlash for bogus claim Jesus turned a gay man straight

Patrick Kelleher January 26, 2021
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Nelson McCausland DUP conversion therapy

Former DUP MLA Nelson McCausland is being urged to resign from the Education Authority after he was accused of endorsing conversion therapy. (YouTube)

Nelson McCausland, former DUP minister and current Education Authority board member, has been accused of endorsing conversion therapy after he shared a story of a gay man who “met Jesus” and turned straight.

McCausland, who formerly served as minister for social development in the Northern Ireland Assembly, shared a Gospel Coalition article on Facebook on Monday (25 January), which tells the story of former Hollywood set designer Becket Cook.

The article, published in 2019, claims that Cook was gay until he “met Jesus” in 2009. Such stories are often shared by anti-LGBT+ campaigners in an effort to show that sexuality can be changed, despite the fact that conversion therapy has been debunked as pseudoscience by almost every mainstream psychiatric association.

According to a screenshot, shared on Twitter by gay Alliance Party councillor Eóin Tennyson, McCausland said Cook’s story was “a powerful testimony of a life changed by God” and claimed he offered “important insights into the whole ‘gay movement’ from someone who has been there”.

Nelson McCausland urged to resign from the Education Authority.

Sharing the screenshot of McCausland’s post on Twitter, Tennyson wrote: “This makes me indescribably angry.”

He said McCausland had shared the article “without any regard for the impact this s**t has on young LGBT+ people.”

“Nelson has no idea what it’s like to be 11-years-old, crying yourself to sleep at night praying God will ‘cure’ you because of the nonsense spouted by people like him.”

McCausland has faced criticism from others for his comments, with many calling on him to resign from his post at the Education Authority in Northern Ireland.

Belfast councillor Séamus de Faoite has launched a petition on Change.org calling on McCausland to “immediately resign” from his position on the Education Authority.

“Nelson McCausland, a member of the NI Education Authority’s Board has recently shared articles on his social media pages advocating for so-called ‘gay conversion therapy’,” de Faoite wrote.

“This harmful and abusive practice is incompatible with the delivery of education in an inclusive and compassionate Northern Ireland and therefore Mr McCausland should immediately resign his position on the Education Authority’s board.”

The petition has already been signed by more than 500 people.

McCausland has denied that the article he shared endorsed conversion therapy, according to the Belfast Telegraph.

“Councillor Tennyson must have misread or misunderstood the article that I posted as it was not about ‘gay conversion therapy’,” McCausland said.

“It was a testimony from The Gospel Coalition website and was in the form of an interview about the life transforming power of the gospel of Jesus Christ,” he said, adding that Cook, the subject of the article, “had not undergone any therapy”.

In a statement, Barry Mulholland, chairperson of the Education Authority Board, said: “Personal comments or social media posts made by any member of the authority cannot be taken as a reflection of the position of the wider Education Authority board.

“Equality, diversity and inclusion is central to everything EA do and we are committed to working to support staff, children and young people to overcome the barriers to full inclusion and participation in society and to ensure that all feel welcomed, safe and valued.”

McCausland and the DUP did not respond to a request for comment from PinkNews.

Conversion therapy is widely considered to be a dangerous and harmful form of pseudoscience propagated by religious extremists.

The practice has been condemned by various health and psychiatry bodies across the world, including the American Psychiatric Association, the American College of Physicians, and the American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry.

A survey conducted by the Ozanne Foundation in 2019 found that one in five survivors of conversion therapy in the UK later attempted suicide, while two in five said they had suicidal thoughts after undergoing the harmful practice.

Meanwhile, less than a third of those surveyed said they went on to “lead a happy and fulfilled life”.

Ministers in Northern Ireland committed to banning conversion therapy in September 2020.

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