DUP councillor calls gay conversion campaign a hoax
A DUP councillor has called the campaign to ban gay conversion therapy a "hoax" by people wishing to impose "a neo Marxist utopia".
Colin Kennedy of Ards and North Down Borough Council was reacting to the passing of a motion calling Stormont to bring forward legislation banning gay conversion therapy before next year's assembly elections.
It also agreed to promote and support counselling and advocacy the LGBT+ community.
Mr Kennedy said an idea of conversion therapy had been "manufactured", but also stressed people experiencing "unwanted same sex attraction" should have the right to "life changing therapies".
He was responding to comments by Alliance member Connie Egan.
"Our job of building a just, fair, and equal community for all will not be complete for as long as LGBT+ children in our schools fall victim to homophobic bullying, are unable to access appropriate mental health support services, and still walk the streets of Northern Ireland in fear of violence and discrimination," she said.
"As a small but significant additional step on that journey to becoming the more inclusive and welcoming place we strive to be, we have brought this cross-party motion to ban the cruel practice of so-called conversion therapy.
"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."
Mr Kennedy said he thought it was "long past time that this whole campaign was called out for the hoax, and the anti-religion dog whistle, that it is".
Conversion therapy, he said, was until recently familiar to no one.
He said it evoked thoughts of barbarism, bootcamps and other shocks and coercions.
"None of these misguided and barbaric things actually happen in Northern Ireland. It is not something that anyone in this chamber will attempt to support or defend," he added.
"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."