Ex-gay man writes to MLAs after facing criticism in assembly debate on gay conversion therapy

The chief executive of a trust sharply criticised in an assembly in a debate on gay conversion therapy has asked the MLA involved to meet him and hear his story.

Friday, 7th May 2021, 6:30 am
Updated Friday, 7th May 2021, 9:42 am
Dr Mike Davidson of Core Issues Trust

Last month MLAs passed a motion from UUP MLAs Doug Beattie and John Stewart calling for a ban on gay conversion therapy “in all its forms”.

During the debate, Mr Beattie told MLAs: “Conversion therapy is humiliating and harmful, and having listened to testimonies of individuals who have undergone conversion therapy, it is clear that it has far-reaching negative mental impacts.”

He continued: “We have a charity, with charitable status and everything that goes with that status, conducting conversion therapies here in Northern Ireland.

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“It is part-funded by the International Federation for Therapeutic and Counselling Choice, which says that witnessing domestic violence or suffering sexual abuse can make you gay. My word. So, if you are subjected to domestic violence or sexual abuse, it can make you gay.

“I have to say to everybody here and to anybody listening that this needs to be stopped, and I will keep saying that. Those are inhumane, cruel practices that are detrimental to people’s mental health.”

However Ballynahinch-based Mike Davidson, CEO of Core Issues Trust, has now written to Mr Beattie.

“I have asked Doug to meet me personally,” said Mr Davidson, who describes himself as “a former homosexual”.

In a letter to all MLAs, Mr Davidson commended Mr Beattie for defending people who are “victims of poor [counselling] interventions”.

He added: “Unfortunately, in his speech, Mr Beattie unfairly linked our charity, Core Issues Trust, to ‘torture and inhumane or degrading treatment’. He went on to name the International Federation for Therapeutic and Counselling Choice (IFTCC), a UK registered initiative working to self-regulate therapeutic choice internationally, in an equally unfair and inaccurate light.”

He said that neither organisation was asked to give an account and “more disturbingly” neither were any of their clients.

Mr Davidson said the IFTCC, of which he is chair, has now written to MLAs to point out “the well-established scientific research which appears to have been overlooked in this debate”.

He added that in 2014 the High Court ruled that “ex-gay” people are protected under the Equality Act of 2010 “and should not be discriminated against”.

Mr Beattie and all the assembly political parties were invited to comment.

Green Party Councillor Anthony Flynn responded to Mr Davidson, saying it was “fundamentally wrong” to view minority sexual orientation or gender identity as something that needs to be fixed or cured.

He added that any practice, including religious practice, with a pre-determined outcome such as changing sexual orientation, is “harmful and denigrating”. He added: ”We should focus on ensuring that Queer people, particularly young or closeted people, are supported on their journey to finding self-acceptance with their identity and reducing the harm found through dangerous faux therapies.”

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