LGBT+ rights campaigners held a protest outside a Christian conference in Belfast on Saturday for people experiencing “same-sex temptations”.
Around 30 campaigners peacefully protested outside the church, holding placards stating “Self-hatred is not therapy” and proclaiming “Love needs no cure”.
True Freedom Trust, who organised the day-long event at the Windsor Baptist Church, provide “pastoral support” for Christians who find themselves attracted to members of the same sex but who want to stay in line with Christian teachings.
The LGBT+ rights protest outside the event was organised by the health advocacy group the Rainbow Project.
John O’Doherty, director of the Rainbow Project, said: “The True Freedom Trust is a reparative therapy organisation that believe that there is something wrong with being gay and people should move away from being gay.”
“The actions of all reparative therapy and conversion therapy groups are the same – they believe that there’s something wrong with being gay and they seek to support people in moving away from being LGBT,” O’Doherty explained.
O’Doherty said the group will always protest these events and added that he believes “This message is harmful to our community and LGBT people deserve to know that they are equal to anybody else within society.”
The director of True Freedom Trust, Stuart Parker, claimed the message of the event was misunderstood. “It’s very clear in our policies and on our website that we don’t point people toward conversion therapy,” he said. “We are a pastoral ministry, so we look to point people to what the Bible says, to encourage people in their Christian walk.”
He added that they are not a counselling organisation but that they might point people towards a “good quality counsellor”.
“They are very welcome to believe what they want to believe but I think they have misunderstood what we are about – we are not a therapeutic or counselling organisation, we are not here to push our views on other people who disagree with them,” Parker concluded.
On the website for True Freedom Trust, the organisation’s vision is defined as “to see the Church uphold traditional biblical teaching on sexual relationships and gender with understanding and compassion”.
The page states that through their pastoral care and counselling, “Growth towards wholeness may involve a change in emotions and sexual feelings, although we do not see it as our aim to ‘cure’ same-sex attractions.”
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