LGBT protest at Christian conference for those with ‘same sex temptations’

LGBT protest at Christian conference for those with ‘same sex temptations’

Campaigners for LGBT rights holding a protest outside Windsor Baptist Church in Belfast.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Campaigners for LGBT rights have held a protest outside a Christian conference offering support for people experiencing "same sex temptations".

The day-long event in Windsor Baptist Church in Belfast was organised by the True Freedom Trust.

Demonstrators held a peaceful picket outside the church, branding the conference a form of gay conversion therapy.

But the True Freedom Trust said the protesters had misunderstood its message.

It insisted it did not provide therapy or counselling, rather "pastoral support" for Christians who find themselves attracted to members of the same sex but who want to adhere to the Biblical definition of sex as between a married man and woman.

Around 25 to 30 people gathered outside the church in south Belfast on Saturday morning to highlight their opposition. They waved rainbow flags and held placards proclaiming that "love needs no cure".

The demonstration was largely silent, with no songs, chants or speeches. A number of police officers maintained a low key presence, monitoring the event from the other side of the road.

The protest was organised by LGBT health advocacy group the Rainbow Project.

Rainbow Project director John O'Doherty said the conference was engaging in "quackery".

"The True Freedom Trust is a reparative therapy organisation that believe that there is something wrong with being gay and people should move away from being gay," he said.

"We will always stand opposed to this type of quackery in Belfast, we will always protest these events."

He added: "We will always stand opposed to it because this message is harmful to our community and LGBT people deserve to know that they are equal to anybody else within society and their identity is something to be celebrated, not something to be shameful of."

The Belfast conference is one of a series being held by the True Freedom Trust across the UK. In promotional literature, the trust said the event was "aimed at Christians who experience same-sex temptations".

Stuart Parker, the director of True Freedom Trust, said he respected the protesters' right to disagree, but he urged respect for his right to hold to his Christian beliefs.

"The True Freedom Trust is an organisation for Christians, we have been going since 1977, and we seek to encourage those, particularly those who have same-sex attractions and believe in an orthodox understanding of what the Bible says about sexuality, just seek to encourage them in their faith and their walk with God," he said.

"It's very clear in our policies and on our website that we don't point people toward conversion therapy, we are not a therapeutic organisation.”

He added: "Our interpretation of the Bible, which is the mainstream orthodox position of the church in the UK, is that sexual behaviour, God has made it for the marriage for a man and a woman.”

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