Conversion remedy laws shouldn’t penalize pastoral duties

Conversion remedy laws shouldn’t penalize pastoral duties

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The Presbyterian Church in Ireland has spoken out in favor of banning "coercive measures" on sexual identity, but has warned that any legislation must protect pastors who provide spiritual support to those struggling in this area.

The comments came after the MLAs passed a non-binding motion in the Northern Ireland Assembly that it was "fundamentally wrong" to view members of the LGBTQ community as "repairing or healing" and calling for a ban on conversion therapy for homosexuals. "in all its forms".

After the debate, in which the motion was passed by 59 votes against 24, the Pastor of the Presbyterian Church, Dr. David Bruce, the opportunity for locally elected representatives to discuss and debate an issue "that is important to many, including people of trust".

"As a church, we are also clear on this issue, we reject such coercive approaches, do not sanction them and they should never be proposed," he said.

"We support measures to introduce laws that don't yet exist to ban these abuses that are obviously harmful to people."

He went on to say that Christians should be free to help those who come to them for support and advice in their struggle with their sexual identity.

Freedom of conscience should also be respected, he said.

"We also recognize that not everyone struggles with their sexuality, but for those Christians who do so and ask their minister or youth leader to be pastorally and prayerfully by their side when they speak about this area of ​​their life, should future legislation will not do this. " criminalize either for the responsible performance of their pastoral duties, "he said.

"When protection from coercion and 'therapy' is needed, clarity and balance are needed. We appreciate the fact that a number of MLAs have recognized the important principle that freedom of thought, conscience, and religion – and religious freedom should also be recognized is protected. "

Simon Calvert of the Christian Institute said it was right to protect people from "dangerous medical quacking practices" but added that ordinary religious activity should not be criminalized.

He said, "A ban on spiritual guidance and prayer would be tyrannical and impractical. Do you expect the police, prosecutors and courts to decide which types of prayers are criminal and which are not?"

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