‘Conversion Practices’ study paid for by Stormont’s Communities Department branded “useless”

17, May 2024

By James Kennedy

A new study into ‘Conversion Practices in Northern Ireland’ has been branded “useless” by The Christian Institute.

The study considers the claims of only ten people, some of whom were “recruited through the researchers’ networks”.

Funded by Stormont’s Department for Communities, the so-called ‘research’ was commissioned by highly controversial LGBT group The Rainbow Project, alongside Cara-Friend and HERe NI.

No “academic rigour”

The study comprises selective accounts of its ten participants, with the admission that it is not representative of the whole public.

The confusing accounts begin with someone who had experienced “prayer, Bible studies and teaching”. Other situations included one person who said while out shopping they’d had church members discourage them from gender ‘transition’.

The suggestion that occurrences such as this could amount to ‘conversion practices’ highlights a total lack of academic rigour on the part of the researchers. Surely, it’s only common sense that people’s disagreements at the supermarket shouldn’t be classed as ‘conversion therapy’? By failing to define the very terms they are studying, these researchers have fallen at the first hurdle.  

Adding to the report’s incoherence, the study’s authors offer no reflection on existing law in the UK. Abuse is already illegal, and some of the reflections describe behaviour that already falls foul of criminal law.

Response from Christians

Three controversial LGBT groups have jointly led the project. The Rainbow Project – which has expressed concern over the Cass Review and gives advice on its website to gay men on taking illegal drugs during sex – has taken the lead. Also participating are Cara-Friend and HERe NI, who are based in the same offices as the Rainbow Project and known for LGBT lobbying.

The Christian Institute’s Ciarán Kelly responded to the report:

“In an independent legal opinion for The Christian Institute, Jason Coppel KC is clear that the sort of ‘conversion therapy’ law being called for by LGBT activists is incompatible with NI’s human rights obligations.

“We wrote to the Minister for Communities in June 2021 providing this legal advice, making it clear that we ‘will not hesitate, where appropriate, to seek a judicial review’ if proposals from the Department interfere with the ordinary work of churches.  

“This study is useless. It lacks any kind of academic rigour and should never be used to shape Government policy. By its own admission, it is not representative of the NI public and includes no literature review. All we have are selective odds and ends from conversations with a handful of people. It is impossible to take seriously.

“This is nothing more than activist ‘research’, branded with the campaign colours of a lobby group yet paid for by Northern Ireland’s hardworking taxpayers.”

See also: MP repeatedly proposes flawed conversion therapy amendments

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