DUP councillor Colin Kennedy. (Ards and North Down Borough Council)
A DUP councillor has claimed that the campaign to outlaw conversion therapy in the UK is a “hoax” that is part of a push for a “neo Marxist utopia”.
Colin Kennedy, a councillor for Ards and North Down Borough Council, spoke out a conversion therapy ban after the council passed a motion calling on Stormont to ban the discredited practice in Northern Ireland.
Alliance councillor Connie Egan said a conversion therapy ban would be “a small but significant” step towards building a “more inclusive and welcoming” society for young people in Northern Ireland.
“The passage of this motion will be a statement of our belief regarding a potential ban, but it will also be a loud statement of solidarity to our LGBT+ neighbours, friends and family members, to say we stand with you,” Egan said, according to The Irish News.
Responding to Egan, Kennedy baselessly claimed that the concept of conversion therapy had been “manufactured”. He also said people who experience “unwanted same sex attraction” should have the right to “life changing therapies”.
He said it was “long past time the this whole campaign was called out for the hoax, and the anti-religion dog whistle, that it is.”
Kennedy claimed that most people had not even heard of conversion therapy until recently, adding that it conjured barbaric imagery of an abusive and coercive practice.
DUP councillor thinks conversion therapy ban will ‘legislate Christianity out of existence’
“None of these misguided and barbaric things actually happen in Northern Ireland,” Kennedy said.
“It is not something that anyone in this chamber will attempt to support or defend.
“The reality of course is that the advocates of this ideologically spawned terminology actually wish to ban adults, who are in full possession of their faculties, from voluntarily talking about how to live out their sexuality.
“They wish to ban people of faith from teaching the bible. They want to ban ministers, professionals, counsellors, from speaking to their beliefs, or rendering any services to those aforementioned adults.
“They want to ban parents from raising their kids according to their faith. They wish to isolate and stigmatise people of faith, and ultimately their wish is to legislate Christianity and a Christian worldview out of existence, and impose their very own inclusive Neo-Marxist utopia.”
Conversion therapy has become one of the central issues in the fight for LGBT+ rights and equality in the UK in recent years.
The practice has been discredited and debunked by every major psychiatric body, and numerous studies have shown that efforts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity lead to mental turmoil and suicidal ideation.
The UK government is finally progressing plans to introduce a limited ban on conversion therapy in England and Wales – although it will controversially allow the practice to continue in religious settings.
Conversion therapy is a devolved matter for Northern Ireland, meaning politicians in the region will advance their own legislation to outlaw the practice.
Ministers in Northern Ireland have promised that they will ban the traumatising practice.