LiveLIVE UPDATES: NI gay conversion therapy row - Motion calling for ban passed in Assembly as DUP amendment is defeated

An Ulster Unionist motion designed to force a ban on all forms of gay conversion therapy has been passed in the Assembly but an amendment tabled by the DUP was defeated.

Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 4:49 pm

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LIVE UPDATES: NI gay conversion therapy row - Assembly passes gay conversion therapy motion but DUP amendment is defeated

Last updated: Tuesday, 20 April, 2021, 16:44

Assembly passes gay conversion therapy motion but DUP amendment is defeated

An Assembly motion calling on Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey to introduce a ban on gay conversion therapy in Northern Ireland before the end of the current mandate has been passed.

The Ulster Unionist motion stated it was “fundamentally wrong to view our LGBTQ community as requiring a fix or cure”.

A DUP amendment supported prohibition of the practice but sought to include protections for “legitimate religious activities such as preaching, prayer and pastoral support”, insisting those do not constitute conversion therapy.

The amendment faced criticism from political rivals for removing the line from the original motion stating that it was wrong to view the LGBTQ community as requiring a “fix or cure”.

The amendment was defeated 59 votes to 28.

The substantive motion passed 59 votes to 24.

‘I do not care if they are rate payers as far as I am concerned they are perverts’ - Cara Hunters quotes DUP’s Sammy Wilson to DUP in Assembly

SDLP MLA, Cara Hunter, quoted DUP MP Sammy Wilson to the DUP during a debate on gay conversion therapy in the Assembly in Stormont of Tuesday afternoon.

Ms. Hunter, who is a long time supporter of the local LGBT+ community and who categorically opposes all forms of coversion therapy, expressed frustration with the DUP’s amendment to the gay conversion therapy motion.

Ms. Hunter quoted several high profile DUP members, some former and some current members.

In a bid to condemn comments made by various DUP members about people from the LGBT+ community, Ms. Hunter quoted DUP MP Sammy Wilson who once referred to homosexuals as: “I don’t care if they are ratepayers. As far as I am concerned they are perverts”.

Meanwhile, TUV MLA, Jim Allister said he would not be supporting the motion but would be supporting the amendment.

The gay conversion therapy debate has adjourned but will resume in the afternoon.

A passionate Doug Beattie labels DUP amendment 'ludicrous'

Ulster Unionist MLA, Doug Beattie, has labelled a DUP amendment to a motion concerning the banning of gay conversion therapy in Northern Ireland as "ludicrous".

“I am a straight man, I was born a straight man - there is no fix for me therefore why would we say to a gay man that he can be fixed? - it’s ludicrous,” said Mr. Beattie.

The motion which was brought before the Assembly on Tuesday afternoon by Mr. Beattie and his UUP colleague, Mr. John Stewart was supported by Sinn Fein, SDLP and the Alliance Party.

The same three parties said they would not be supporting the DUP amendment.

The debate inside the chamber continues.

Northern Ireland legislation to ban gay conversion therapy must include harmful religious practices, Amnesty International has said ahead of a debate at the Stormont Assembly on Tuesday.

A motion brought by Ulster Unionist MLAs John Stewart and Doug Beattie calls on the Minister for Communities to commit to bringing forward legislation before the end of the current Assembly mandate to ban conversion therapy in all its forms.

An amendment from DUP MLAs is seeking to exclude religious practices from any ban.

Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland Programme Director of Amnesty International UK, said:

“In recent years, proponents of so-called conversion therapy have tried to hide their anti-LGBT+ views by representing these practices as being about mental health and religious liberty, often carried out in the context of pastoral care or prayer ministry.

“Being against bogus conversion practices is not a threat to religious freedom. Just last week, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief - the world’s most senior authority on religious rights - said that attempts to change someone’s sexuality or gender identity were ‘chilling’ and that a ban would not violate freedom of religion or belief under international law.

“’Praying the gay away’ is just as unacceptable as any other pseudoscientific approach which tells LGBT+ people they are ‘sick’ and ‘broken’ and can change their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“MLAs should not be distracted by spurious arguments and should ensure that any legislation not only covers the now, thankfully, rare conversion activity in healthcare settings, but addresses religious practices where demonstrable harm results.”

MLAs to debate banning ‘harmful’ gay conversion therapy ‘in all its forms’

MLAs are debating a motion designed to ban gay conversion therapy in “all its forms” in the Aseembly today.

The motion has been put before the Assembly by Ulster Unionist Party MLAs, Doug Beattie and John Stewart.

Here is the wording of the motion in full:

That this Assembly rejects the harmful practice widely referred to as conversion therapy; notes that the UK Government National LGBT Survey in 2018 reported that 2% of respondents had undergone conversion therapy with a further 5% having been offered it; acknowledges the damage this practice causes to the mental health of those who are subjected to it; further acknowledges that this practice has been widely rejected by medical professionals; declares that it is fundamentally wrong to view our LGBTQ community as requiring a fix or cure; and calls on the Minister for Communities to commit to bringing forward legislation before the end of the current Assembly mandate to ban conversion therapy in all its forms.

Gay conversion therapy motion - Mr. Doug Beattie, MLA and Mr. John Stewart, MLA

The DUP has tabled an amendment to the motion designed to protect ‘legitimate religious activities'.

If successful, the DUP’s amendment would see the following removed from the motion:

...it is fundamentally wrong to view our LGBTQ community as requiring a fix or cure...

DUP amendment

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