Protest at Co Down church showing film urging gay people not to live out their homosexuality

The film was screened at Ballynahinch Baptist Church

PROTESTERS have gathered outside a Co Down church to object to the screening of a film urging gay people not to live out their homosexuality.

Voices of The Silenced was given its first viewing in Ireland at Ballynahinch Baptist Church on Tuesday night. It tells the stories of 15 people "emerging out of homosexual lifestyles" following therapy or religion.

Producers of the film said they wanted to challenge the "born gay myth".

The film screening was organised by Core Issues Trust, a Christian Group which says it offers "therapeutic support for those with unwanted homosexual feelings".

It was forced to relocate the event to the Co Down church after being turned down by cinemas in Belfast and London.

Around 100 protesters carrying placards and flags formed a picket outside the church during the film screening, with many saying they wanted to show "solidarity with our LGBT community".

Among those who took part was Sinn Féin assembly member Emma Rogan, who said "conversion therapies should be a banned".

"There is nothing wrong with being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender and Sinn Féin totally oppose the use of 'therapies', which are aimed to change, repress and, or eliminate a person's sexual orientation, gender identity and, or gender expression," she said.

"These 'therapies' are damaging, extremely dangerous and can have a very damaging psychological effect on people.

"The practice of conversion therapy has been condemned and discredited worldwide by institutions such as the UN Committee Against Torture, the European Parliament and by the Irish Council for Psychotherapy."

Mike Davidson, director of the Core Issues Trust, has previously told of how he has undergone counselling for homosexuality.

Married to his wife Lynone for almost 40 years, he said that during their marriage he has managed to reject his homosexual urges through a combination of "counselling, prayer and psychotherapy". He also claims to be able to help others do the same.

He said he wanted to screen the film in Northern Ireland as he believes people with homosexual feelings are being made to feel it is "mandatory to identify as gay".

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