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Slieve Gullion Councillor Pete Byrne has welcomed the Assembly’s support yesterday for a motion to ban conversion therapy and said that the Communities Minister must bring forward legislation as soon as possible. 

Councillor Byrne said that this is a positive step forward in our journey to make the North more welcoming to LGBT+ citizens.

He said “I am pleased that today MLAs at the Assembly overwhelmingly supported the UUP motion, calling for a ban on conversion therapy. It is also welcome news that MLAs chose to reject the ill-judged and divisive DUP amendment.”

Pride in Newry 2019. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
Pride in Newry 2019. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

“While this is an important and incredibly positive move, we now need to see legislation brought forward by Minister Hargey, to make a ban on conversion therapy a reality. This must be done as soon as possible and SDLP MLAs will work proactively with the Minister to ensure this important task is achieved.”

Cllr Pete Byrne.

"For far too long, LGBT+ people across the North have had to campaign for basic recognition in terms of equal treatment and rights. The right to exist as we were born should be a given in every corner of our society. The many messages of support from MLAs today will go a long way to reassuring those who are struggling with who they are. Progress must continue and the SDLP will play our full part in building a truly welcoming society, where LGBT+ people know they are loved, valued and equal."

Speaking yesterday in the Assembly in response to the Motion, Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey said that so called ‘conversion therapy’ is a cruel and inhumane practice and it should be ended.

Minister Hargey said: “So called “conversion therapy” has no place in society. I know how huge the hurt and damage can be to people when they are told they need to be fixed or cured. We have heard that hurt again from people in recent days. This language and behaviour is unacceptable and should not be tolerated - it will not be included in any proposals put forward by my Department. We need to accept people for who they are and this is what I will ensure we do.

“To ensure the protection of our LGBTQI+ community, my department has taken the lead on this policy area. We need to get this policy right. My officials have commenced policy work to inform the drafting of the legislation alongside the work we are doing in the LGBTQI + Strategy. We need to be clear on what it is we are going to ban and to also look at what is already in place.  Just as importantly, we need to consider how we can help and support those who have been most impacted and how we can start to repair the damage so called conversion therapy has done.

“We can provide a rights based approach framed within an International Human Rights framework. I look forward to working with everyone to bring this ban into reality. I will work to ensure we bring this forward in the right way. We need to ensure the legislation is robust in protecting those we wish to protect.”

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