A politician in Northern Ireland has been besieged by campaigners demanding his resignation because he posted a link to the testimony of a gay man who became a Christian.
More than 3,200 people have signed a Change.org petition calling for Nelson McCausland to resign his position on the Northern Ireland Education Authority Board.
In February, Mr McCausland, a former Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) member of the legislative assembly (MLA), posted links to articles on his social media pages concerning the testimony of Becket Cook, an American man who had lived as a gay man before converting to Christianity.
The article and testimony were seen to be promoting so-called ‘conversion therapy’, which campaigners are currently trying to make illegal. According to news reports, Mr McCausland has denied that the article he posted was related to gay conversion therapy.
Moreover, Mr Cook himself tweeted that he has not been ‘made straight’, stating, ‘In recent articles in NI on Nelson McCausland, there are false claims that I “turned straight” after I met Jesus. I have never once said that. I am single and celibate. Happy to deny myself and follow Christ.’
Within hours, screenshots of the posts were being promoted across social media, together with calls for Mr McCausland to resign, or to be sacked, for posting Mr Cook’s testimony. The controversy has escalated since, with questions being raised in the Assembly in relation to the comments.
Gerry Carroll, MLA for West Belfast, also took to Twitter to express his concern about the articles Mr McCausland shared.
He wrote, ‘On the health Committee this morning we have been discussing the appalling sharing of articles in relation to conversion therapy by a former DUP member and Minister Nelson McCausland. Conversion therapy is a bogus, dangerous and frankly homophobic practice that shouldn’t be allowed.’
Barry Mulholland, chairperson of the Education Authority, said, ‘Personal comments or social media posts made by any member of the Authority cannot be taken as a reflection of the position of the wider Education Authority board.
‘Equality, diversity and inclusion is central to everything EA do and we are committed to working to support staff, children and young people to overcome the barriers to full inclusion and participation in society and to ensure that all feel welcomed, safe and valued.’
One of the people calling for Mr McCausland to be sacked said they had written to the Education Authority but were told the matter should be taken up with the political party that nominated Mr McCausland to the Authority.