Petition begun to unseat DUP’s Nelson McCausland over ‘gay conversion therapy’ post
A DUP member of the Education Authority has found himself in the centre of a row over so-called ‘gay conversion therapy’.
Nelson McCausland triggered the storm on Monday when he tweeted “the fascinating story of Becket Cook”.
Mr McCausland introduced the interview stating: “A powerful testimony of a life changed by God and some important insights into the whole ‘gay movement’ from someone who has been there.”
Mr Cook was a gay man in Hollywood who had achieved great success as a set designer in the fashion industry.
He described his conversion to faith, after attending a church service, as “shocking and unexpected to me, a Road to Damascus moment”.
He no longer identifies as gay but says he still “struggles” with “same-sex attraction”.
The post provoked a storm of protest, with a petition now formed on www.change.org called “Nelson McCausland Resign from NI Education Authority” for advocating for “so-called gay conversion therapy”.
Upper Bann Alliance councillor Eóin Tennyson said the DUP politician “should be ashamed of himself”.
He added: “‘Gay conversion’ has been consistently discredited and denounced. It has absolutely no basis in scientific fact.
“It’s clear you’ve never been 11-years-old, crying yourself to sleep at night praying to be ‘cured’ because you’ve internalised the nonsense spouted by bigots or homophobes in the public eye.”
SDLP MLA Daniel McCrossan called on the Education Authority to investigate.
“It is deeply troubling that a member of the Education Authority board thought it appropriate to share articles which advocate the discredited and deeply harmful view that LGBT+ people can or should be changed,” he said.
“It sends a destructive message to children and young adults in our schools and in our society who are struggling with their sexuality.”
Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell added: “Many of those who claim to have been ‘cured’ of homosexuality have subseqently been exposed as later reverting to gay relationships. There is no scientific evidence or reputable research that religion can change a person’s sexual orientation or that any professed change is effective, healthy or lasting.”
But Mike Davidson, who describes himself as “a former homosexual” defended Mr McCausland.
“Daniel McCrossan would do well to consider that those who in fact were formerly LGBT have the right to identify as ex-gay or ex-trans persons,” said the Co Down man, who heads up Core Issues Trust, a charity helping others with the same outlook as himself.
He added: “Sending messages of acceptance and hope to young LGBT persons shouldn’t need to shut down different viewpoints about the fact of sexual fluidity.”
Mr McCausland also responded that Mr Cook “had not undergone any therapy” and that criticism on that basis was “based on a false premise”.
The News Letter contacted Becket Cook and asked if he had taken gay conversaion therapy. “I have no idea what this [row] is about, but I have never had conversion therapy nor would I,” he said. “I don’t believe in it. I am happy to be single and celibate.”
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