Edwin Poots says ‘sexuality is fixed and cannot be cured’ - but DUP will still defend gay conversion therapy
The DUP says it has not changed its position on gay conversion therapy, despite party leader elect Edwin Poots saying this week that sexuality is “probably fixed”.
Quizzed on his views this week by Stephen Nolan, Mr Poots said he believed sexuality was “probably fixed”.
He added: “I don’t believe you can fix or cure people of their sexuality...”.
Last month the Assembly passed a UUP non-binding motion banning conversion therapy by a large margin, with most DUP MLAs - including Mr Poots - opposing it on the grounds that it made no allowances for guidance from clergy.
But asked whether Mr Poot’s comment, that sexuality is fixed, now means the DUP will support such a ban, the party said it’s position remained unchanged.
A spokesman said the party still supports a ban on “the harmful practices involved with conversion therapy... However we will not support any legislation which does not contain robust protection of religious freedom”.
Mental health campaigner Lindsay Robinson, who is married to DUP MP Gavin Robinson, said on social media that she agreed with Mr Poots that sexuality is fixed.
She added: “I also add they absolutely DO NOT NEED a fix/cure.”
But then she asked of Mr Poots why he voted against banning conversion therapy if he believes sexuality if fixed: “why on earth vote against [the] Ban Conversion [therapy] NI Assembly motion”?
That prompted a conversation among her followers on Twitter.
‘Emeraldunion’ responded to her: “Would the motion have banned pastors praying for someone?” to which Gareth Murray replied that there was “no clear definition of what constituted conversion therapy” in the UUP assembly motion last month.
Several other posters suggested that now Mr Poots is in the leadership position, he must choose his words more carefully than before so as not to alienate voters unnecessarily.
North Down UUP member Michael Palmer concurred with this idea. He has said previously that the UUP is the only unionist party he feels comfortable being a member of as an openly gay man.
“I would honestly like to meet him [Poots] and discuss LGBT issues unionist-to-unionist, but would he meet me If he is genuine about outreach and reforming unionism?” he asked.
Lindsay Robinson affirmed his suggestion.
“I’d like to think so - definitely worth an ask!” she replied.
But another poster was not convinced by Mr Poots’ comments.
“For a party that flaunt Christianity their conduct always seems intrinsically nasty!” he said.
The recent treatment of Arlene Foster and the opposition to banning conversion therapy are “but recent reminders of why we need to be rid of them!” he added.
‘Carole’ then once again picked up the theme of the responsibility of leadership.
“He’s the leader now. Saying what he feels he needs to say”.
But ‘P.Cee’ suggested there would be a price to pay for his comments.
“Watch the Knives coming at him for that...” they added.
Mike Davidson, who describes himself as “a former homosexual” and whose organisation Core Issues Trust was criticised in the Assembly debate, said it is “encouraging to hear the DUP leader’s respect for LGBT persons”.
He added: “In expressing his view that sexuality is ‘probably fixed’ however, Mr Poots doesn’t reflect the opinions of mental health bodies, which insist that post-natal factors influence sexuality, change may occur naturally in a person’s lifetime and sexuality is fluid for some individuals.”
He added: “‘Fixing’ and ‘curing’ people really isn’t the issue. The issue is whether Mr Poots and his party are prepared to affirm the rights of those formerly LGBT-identified and mixed-attracted persons, who want to explore their heterosexual side, with support from counsellors and pastoral workers? I fear politicians currying favour with the LGBT community will mean they discriminate against ex-gay persons.”
The Ban Conversion Therapy NI campaign and Rainbow Project were also invited to comment.
::Edwin Poots dismisses Peter Robinson criticism as ‘inaccurate’ but welcomes him as ‘critical friend’
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