Government plans to ban “gay conversion” therapy are an example of “over-reach” by the state, a Co Down man who describes himself as “ex-gay” has said.
GPs in Northern Ireland have, however, welcomed the move.
The ban will come under a new lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) action plan outlined by the government. The £4.5 million initiative aimed at making society more inclusive for the LGBT community brands so-called “gay cure” conversion therapies “abhorrent”.
The Home Office has confirmed that the ban will “require a UK wide approach”.
A spokesperson said: “Though this is a UK Government Action Plan, it will have varying levels of effect across the four nations of the UK, owing to existing devolution arrangements.
“Some commitments, for example on ending conversion therapy, will require a UK-wide approach.”
The Northern Ireland branch of the The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) welcomed the move.
RCGP chairwoman, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, said: “Being LGBT is not a disease, it is not a mental illness and it doesn’t need a ‘cure’. Any proclamations to the contrary risk causing harm to our gay and trans patients’ physical and mental health and well-being, as well as perpetuating discrimination in society.”
That is not the view taken by Dr Mike Davidson, who lives near Hillsborough and runs the Northern Ireland-based Christian organisation Core Issues Trust.
Dr Davidson sought help from “a psychiatrist and psychotherapists” to overcome what he called his “confusion around sexuality”.
He now proclaims himself to be “ex-gay”, and is married to a woman with whom he has children.
His organisation offers “support” to “men and women with homosexual issues who voluntarily seek change in sexual preference and expression”.
Responding to news of the government’s plan for a ban, Dr Davidson said: “My argument is that this is an overreach of the state in controlling the personal lives of individuals.
“There is an issue about surveillance. If you do this therapy you are going to lose your job as a therapist, you’re going to be struck off. And that’s one step away, I would argue, from surveillance of clients.”
Describing his own experience, he said: “I was a man who was conflicted in this area and for as long as I can remember, I had these feelings.
“And to cut a long story short, I married. But there was conflict, and there was some confusion around my own sexuality.
“I had the opportuinty to get the help that I needed from a psychiatrist and a psychotherapist. I’ve been helped, and because of that I’ve had a successful marriage. This is what is being denied the present generation.”