Belfast councillor Séamas de Faoite insisted that LGBT people are facing “harm” and “unsafe”, “dangerous”, “coercive” situations, when pressed over the matter by Mr Nolan.
“I think it’s insulting to suggest that we’re going to go down this path of criminalising prayer because that’s not the case. The issue here is about trying to protect LGBT people,” he said.
He was then asked about a religious leader “praying with someone and asking God to change their sexuality – should that be lawful or unlawful?”
The councillor said this was “a misnomer” (sic) and claimed the question itself was “insulting”.
Pressed time and again on the issue by Mr Nolan, the councillor started talking about suicide rates among gay people and pupils feeling “unsafe” in school.
“I’m just getting frustrated Seamas, because I’m having to ask this question about 20 times and I’m just trying to get a simple answer for the public,” said Mr Nolan.
“Do you believe prayer to change someone’s sexuality is a legitimate activity, or should it be made unlawful?”
He replied: “I don’t believe it’s legitimate. I think it’s coercive and I think it puts LGBT people in a very dangerous position.”
It was put to him that it sounds like the SDLP would indeed criminalise prayer, and Mr Nolan went on to add that this effectively entailed making certain people’s interpretation of The Bible illegal.
“We’re getting into ridiculousness, and the reason why we’re getting into ridiculousness is because you’re asking LGBT people to justify their existence...” said the councillor.
Mr Nolan said no, he was doing no such thing – and “you know I’m not saying that”.
He put it to the councillor again that it seemed to be the case that he would make prayer illegal, and questioned how such a thing could be policed.
“We need to see what the draft legislation looks like,” he replied.
He went on to repeat the claim made frequently by LGBTQ+ campaigners that schools need to run “inclusive” sex and relationships education.
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