DUP moves to remove 'vital LGBTQ+ protections' from conversion therapy motion

The DUP tabled an amendment to remove that “it is fundamentally wrong to view our LGBTQ community as requiring a fix or cure" in conversion therapy motion.

A female politician standing behind a podium

A DUP amendment to a UUP motion calling for a ban on conversion therapy wants to remove a section which says “it is fundamentally wrong to view our LGBTQ community as requiring a fix or cure”.

The UUP tabled the original motion and it will be debated on Tuesday in the Northern Ireland executive. The motion wants an end to the practice in all its forms and “calls on the Minister for Communities to commit to bringing forward legislation before the end of the current Assembly mandate.”

Conversion therapy refers to any form of treatment proposed to change a person’s sexual orientation or to suppress a person’s gender identity. These therapies are both unethical, harmful and based on a belief that being gay or transgender is a mental illness, and can ‘be cured’.

The DUP’s move was proposed by MLAs Joanne Bunting and Robin Newton and has drawn criticism across the political spectrum. “DUP antics including building a straw man [argument] that an effective Conversion Therapy Ban is an attack on religious freedom is both predictable and contemptible,” Andrew Muir, MLA for Alliance, said on Twitter. 

Pat Catney, an MLA for SDLP, said: “The DUP amendment to next week’s Assembly motion calling for a conversion therapy ban is distressing. It is genuinely insulting to people of faith to use the guise of prayer as an excuse to perpetuate a destructive, dehumanising and demeaning practice.” 

Sinn Féin also joined in with MLA Carál Ní Chuilín saying: “I welcome the UUP motion seeking to ban this cruel and unjust practise. The DUP amendment to the motion, however, is an insult to the LGBT+ community and exposes the antiquated and anti-equality views that party still holds.”

Last week the leader of the DUP, Arlene Foster, told the high court under oath that she was not homophobic during a libel case she took against Dr Christian Jessen and said that, “I get very distressed when people do actually call me a homophobe because that’s something I am not.” Days later her party put forward this amendment. 

The newly formed all-Ireland Anti Conversion Therapy Coalition also condemned the amendment. They said that it would allow “for religious reasons to be used as an exemption to practice conversion therapy, on the grounds that it is religious practice. We believe that this will create a loophole that will be utilised in a way that is contradictory to the ideals of ACTC, and to the rights and wellbeing of LGBTQ+ in Northern Ireland.”

The motion is due to be debated on Tuesday in the assembly. If you would like to help get conversion therapy banned in Northern Ireland, join over 1600 people and put in your postcode at banconversiontherapy.com to send a message to your local MLAs.

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