‘Draconian’ DUP education official faces searing backlash for bogus claim Jesus turned a gay man straight
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.”
This makes me indescribably angry. Shared without any regard for the impact this shit 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. pic.twitter.com/zi1EFEy2To
— Eóin Tennyson (@EoinTennyson) January 25, 2021
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.
Conversion therapy is abuse. Targeting conversion therapy at young people is child abuse.
There can be no excuse or “conscientious” objection – it is inconceivable that a board member of the NI @Ed_Authority can advocate for conversion therapy. Nelson McCausland must resign. pic.twitter.com/8y14mNo1qj
— Cllr. Séamas de Faoite (@SeamasBelfast) January 25, 2021
All jokes aside, the fact that someone who believes that being LGBTQ+ is a choice and something to be "cured" should make them ineligible for public office. Nelson McCausland needs to resign from the @Ed_Authority https://t.co/yoma2UEaeh
— Stephen (@Donnan_S) January 25, 2021
I would ask the @Ed_Authority
in NI to distance themselves from remarks made by Nelson McCausland today applauding so-called 'conversion' therapy. LGBT students and staff should feel welcome and happy in schools here. His words send a terrible message and he should resign.
— Shirley-Anne McMillan (@shirleyannemcm) January 25, 2021
Arlene Foster stated in 2018 “I want to acknowledge the contribution of the LGBT+ community in NI"
But yet in 2021 DUP nominated Education Authority Board member Nelson McCausland posts this!
DUP Leader needs to act. Conversion Therapy is evil & dangerous and should be banned pic.twitter.com/icahKAt0Po
— Andrew Muir MLA (@AndrewMuirNI) January 25, 2021
Nelson McCausland can take his barbaric and draconian beliefs and feck away off.
— Micky Murray (@Micky_Murray) January 25, 2021
The @Ed_Authority must remove Nelson McCausland as a board member with immediate effect. Do they condone one of its members advocating conversion therapy?
— South Armagh SDLP (@SouthArmaghSDLP) January 25, 2021
It is ridiculous that this man still continues to have any kind of public position. But to actually be involved in making decisions to do with our children's education is unbelievable. He must go.
Nelson McCausland Resign from NI Education Authority https://t.co/iNpRATGFda
— Bronagh 💙 (@BeebsyMcA) January 25, 2021
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.