The leader of Fianna Fail Micheál Martin has joined Mary McAleese in condemning ‘conversion therapy’ courses describing them as “an affront to human dignity”.
During a conversation with Ursula Halligan, former President McAleese raised concerns about the use of conversion therapy on LGBT+ people.
‘Conversion therapy’ means any practice or treatment that aims to change, repress and, or eliminate a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity and, or gender expression.
Speaking specifically about the Legion of Christ, McAleese told Halligan that she wrote to the Archbishop of Dublin in 2012 to warn him that the Legion of Christ was running workshops in Dublin which aimed to “convert LGBT+ people to heterosexuality.
Members of Legion of Christ, Cardinal Kevin Farrell, forced the organisers of the ‘Why Women Matter’ back in February conference to move the event outside of the Vatican due to his objections to McAleese being an ally to the LGBT+ community.
McAleese told the audience a young priest from the Legion of Christ told her that they “helped young men, and women but particularly young boys helped to turn them into heterosexuals.” Ms McAleese said she had “scathingly,” asked him: “And could you do the opposite?”
She told the priest: “I am now horrified at what you are doing in my city, the city that I love and I am just going to have to take this conversation straight back to the person who authorised you to work here, the archbishop.”
Ms McAleese said that conversion therapy had done “untold damage” to men she had met. “I follow the coffins of young men who have gone through these bogus ‘conversion therapies’ thanks to the church,” she said.
Mr Martin told The Times that conversion therapy should be banned. He said: “I think conversion therapy is absurd, that sort of thing should not be allowed anywhere. That would be an affront to people’s human dignity. It would be anathema to everything we stand for as a political party.”
When asked for comment on this, the Legion Of Christ, who have three facilities in Ireland said they had “nothing further to add”.
A bill introduced by Senator Fintan Warfield which aims to make the practice of performing so-called ‘conversion’ or ‘reparative’ therapies illegal in Ireland is currently passing through the stages of the Dáil.
Additionally, it will make removing a person from the State for the purposes of conversion therapy an offence.
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