Northern Irish Christian organisation promoting conversion therapy won't lose charity status

Core Trust Issues won't lose charity status over promotion of conversion therapy, says Northern Ireland's charity regulator.

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The controversial Christian organisation, Core Issues Trust, has managed to keep its status as a registered charity following an investigation by Northern Ireland’s charity regulator. 

Core Issues Trust, founded by Michael Davidson, promotes conversion therapy on the basis of sexual orientation, or gender identity, and is the most prominent Christian organisation of its kind in Ireland and the UK. 

In May of last year (2020), The National Secular Society (NSS), following complaints from several other organisations, wrote to Chief Charity Commissioner Nicole Lappin, Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey, and Health Minister Robin Swann over the issue. Barclays Bank also served the group notice to say that their bank account would be shut down. 

Northern Ireland’s charity regulator said in a statement released in January that any charity’s purpose must be “beneficial not harmful”, but that “We note that the practice of conversion therapy/change-oriented therapy is not among the purposes of the charity.”

On the Charity Commission website, however, it is noted that Core Issues Trust helps with addiction, adult training, and sexual orientation.

Furthermore, Core Issues Trust states on the Public Benefits section of its website that, “Disagreeing with the radical politicisation of sexuality and the sexual political agenda designed to counter the Judeo-Christian foundations of western civilisation, have existed since the great persecutions of Roman times. The charity’s position will be considered harmful by those promoting the values of radical secular humanism.”

The central issue with regard to dismissing the group as an uncharitable organisation seems to lie in the continued legality of conversion therapy in Northern Ireland. 

The most recent statement from the charity regulator states that “Should the UK government or the NI Executive elect to legislate on the matter then this would provide a definitive steer to the commission on the issue of benefit/harm.” 

A bill banning conversion therapy is being progressed in Northern Ireland, similar to the bill being proposed in the Republic of Ireland, however, Stormont Minister Deirdre Hargey has warned against rushing the ban for fear ineffective laws will allow the practice to continue.

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