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NI ‘Conversion therapy’ ban could be challenged in court, as Wales also backs a ban

July 2021 | by Evangelical Times

Ciaran Kelly
Source: Christian Institute
see image info

The Northern Ireland Executive has been told it will be taken to court if a ban on so-called ‘conversion therapy’ interferes with religious liberty.

The Christian Institute has said it ‘will not hesitate’ to take legal action if the ban limits the free exercise of belief.

LGBT activists want to ban any type of prayer, preaching, pastoral counselling – or even parenting – that doesn’t affirm same-sex relationships or transgenderism.

But in a written legal opinion, leading human rights QC Jason Coppel says such wide definitions would criminalise the legitimate expression of religious beliefs.

Lawyers acting for The Christian Institute have written to the NI Executive saying, ‘Should any proposals from the Department infringe upon the everyday church activities outlined within the enclosed Opinion our client will not hesitate, where appropriate, to seek a judicial review.’

In his legal opinion, Coppel said, ‘one of the fundamental facets of freedom of religion or belief is the right of a religion to determine its own beliefs and practices, the legitimacy of which should not be questioned by the state.’

Meanwhile, the Welsh Government has announced that it backs calls to ban ‘conversion therapy’, although the legislation is likely to be passed at Westminster.

The Christian Institute’s Ciarán Kelly said, ‘Protecting people from dangerous medical practices is one thing, but banning preaching, prayer, and pastoral care is quite different.

‘It would be as tyrannical as it would be unworkable. It is not up to the police, prosecutors, or the courts to decide which kinds of prayer are acceptable

‘Jason Coppel’s advice is quite clear. Christian beliefs on sexuality are protected by human rights law. They may not be fashionable, but that doesn’t mean you can outlaw them.’

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