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DUP doesn’t believe forcing someone to ‘pray away the gay’ constitutes as conversion therapy

Lily Wakefield April 17, 2021
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DUP leader Arlene Foster

Arlene Foster, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which opposes same-sex marriage and abortion. (Charles McQuillan/Getty)

The DUP has tabled an amendment to a motion calling for a conversion therapy ban in Northern Ireland, insisting that religious conversion therapy is perfectly fine.

The motion, set to be debated on Tuesday (20 April), calls on Stormont to “reject the harmful practice widely referred to as conversion therapy” and to “acknowledge the damage this practice causes to the mental health of those who are subjected to it”.

Proposed by Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) MLAs Doug Beattie and John Stewart, the motion also calls for the Northern Ireland legislature to acknowledge “that this practice has been widely rejected by medical professionals”, and urges the “Minister for Communities to commit to bringing forward legislation before the end of the current Assembly mandate to ban conversion therapy in all its forms”.

But on Friday (16 April), the right-wing Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) tabled an amendment to the motion, and said the section which “declares that it is fundamentally wrong to view our LGBTQ community as requiring a fix or cure” should be removed, as well as the call for a swift ban on conversion therapy.

The party has suggest that the motion read instead: “This assembly… recognises that legitimate religious activities such as preaching, prayer and pastoral support do not constitute conversion therapy, cannot be defined as such and must be protected.”

The DUP also said the minister for communities should “consult widely on the way ahead” before banning conversion therapy.

Green Party councillor Anthony Flynn wrote on Twitter: “DUP have tabled an amendment to a conversion therapy motion seeking to remove the idea that LGBTQ people need to be cured, as well as attempting an opt-out for religious orgs to continue this vile practice.

“And their leader gets distressed when people call them homophobic?”

This week, DUP leader Arlene Foster said she gets “very distressed” when she’s called homophobic, despite her history of opposing LGBT+ rights.

Speaking at a libel trial against celebrity doctor Christian Jessen, whom she is suing over a tweet she felt was an “attack” on her marriage, she said: “I have many friends who are homosexual, they know my views on same-sex marriage, and in any event, same-sex marriage is now the law here in Northern Ireland and has to be upheld.”

PinkNews has approached the DUP for comment.

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