Sammy Wilson slammed for gay conversion comments
An East Antrim UUP MLA has hit out after the region’s DUP MP Sammy Wilson said that people who wish to avail of conversion therapy “should be allowed to do so”.
Mr Wilson recently made the comments in an email to a constituent.
In the correspondence, the East Antrim MP said: “I feel that those who wish to avail themselves of conversion therapy and those who wish to practice it should be allowed to do so.
“I am not aware that anyone forces those who practice conversion therapy force their views on anyone and I certainly would not support such a practice, but where those who feel they need some help, and that help is available, then I feel they should be free to request it.”
Mr Wilson’s comments have been condemned by East Antrim Ulster Unionist MLA, John Stewart, who branded conversion therapy “completely and utterly wrong”.
Speaking on the Nolan Show on BBC Radio Ulster this morning (Friday), Mr Stewart, said: “The fact is, gay conversion therapy, or gay cure therapy, or any attempts to gender change efforts, regardless of that, can only exist if there’s a fundamental belief that it is unethical to be homosexual and that there’s a cure needed because there’s an illness there.
“That is fundamentally wrong - completely and utterly wrong. I think that so many people because of pressures from senior politicans or civic leaders feel pressurised into that because there are elements within society who still do not accept people for who they are. That is deeply worrying.
“Half of all LGBT young people have experienced depression, three in five experience anxiety and one in eight have attempted to take their own life.
“The pressures that are put on so many of our young people from LGBT backgrounds are massive and pressures, whether they be real or perceived from organisations, or backgrounds, or family life, feel that they have to go down this route.
“I think even opening it up to the suggestion that it should be allowed is wrong and there’s a reason that medical professionals across the board, the NHS, the College for GP’s, are all opposed this.
“It is wrong, it is harmful and it is damaging our people from the LGBT community.”
Alliance Councillor Danny Donnelly described Mr Wilson’s comment as “shocking”.
“Conversion therapy has no scientific basis and in fact has been condemned by many parts of the psychological and medical profession both in the UK and abroad. “I agree with my Alliance colleague Eoin Tennyson that it is offensive and dangerous to suggest that someone who is gay is ill and can be ‘cured’. These so-called therapies are pseudo science and can be harmful to the people they profess to be helping. They should be banned.”
Responding to the Larne Times, a DUP spokesperson moved to clarify Mr Wilson’s comments. The spokesperson said: “Sammy has been clear that he does not support the practice of gay conversion therapy and would not advocate for it.
“I can confirm the email is legitimate and was a response from Mr Wilson to a constituent.
“The email sets out Sammy’s view that while the practice is not something he would support; it is not for him to dictate to others the services they seek out.
“Sammy has no present plans to meet with LGBT+ groups.”
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