The Christian Institute (CI), a U.K.-based religious liberty organization, warned a House of Commons committee that any conversion therapy ban must be clearly defined to avoid punishing Christians for their sincerely held religious beliefs.
“If one friend at church asks another friend to pray with him, that’s not conversion therapy,” CI President Simon Calvert told the Select Committee for Women and Equalities. “If a church leader teaches from the Bible the Christian position on sexual ethics, that’s not conversion therapy. If parents lovingly and sensitively encourage their children to follow them in the footsteps of their faith, that’s not conversion therapy.”
While CI supports protecting people from dangerous medical practices, LGBTQ activists have taken things too far, Calvert argued.
He believes that some who are pushing for a ban on conversion therapy would also like to see a ban on prayer, pastoral conversations, preaching and even Christian parenting.
“There seems to be a drive, at least in some quarters, for a very theologically-based ban that’s targeting a particular belief,” Calvert said.
He also told the committee that the conversion therapy ban proposal that was presented to Parliament on Oct. 29 by Elizabeth Truss, secretary of state for foreign, commonwealth and development affairs and minister for women and equalities, “lacks detail.”
“If people are to lose potentially their livelihoods under any criminal law, we have a human rights obligation to make sure that law is clear and that people can understand it, and when they’re breaking it and when they’re not breaking it,” he said.
The consultation time for the proposal will end Dec. 10. All comments and suggestions will then be analyzed by Truss and published alongside the government’s response. Truss said she intends to prepare a draft bill for spring 2022.
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