Church denies running ‘gay cure’ event, which shows LGBTQ people how to ‘stay faithful to biblical teaching’

A church in Belfast has denied that it is running “gay cure” events after being accused by LGBTQ activists.

The Willowfield Parish Church held a number events around LGBTQ matters – including a course about wanting to be a good “committed” Christian but identifying within the LGBTQ realm.

The course, titled “Living Out”, says that it is “designed to help church leaders to understand how they can help those who experience same-sex attraction to stay faithful to biblical teaching and flourish at the same time”.

Church rector David McClay insisted that it is not a “gay cure therapy” course and that the “misinformation” about the contents of the event has led to him and his family receiving abuse on social media and on the phone.

McClay explained that the church has “gay people in our congregation every Sunday” and that they had been “totally misrepresented”.

church of england same-sex marriage

(Photo: DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)

Related: Michigan church slammed for ‘counselling’ sessions for LGBTQ teenage girls

The actual event will see LGBTQ+ people share stories about how they “maintain living a celibate life” to help others learn the same “discipline”.

McClay says that to be a good Christian, celibacy is the only option for people who are attracted to members of the same-sex.

He added that he understood that people were “angry” but claimed that they were “given the wrong information”

“I totally refute that we are involved in conversion therapy, nor do the EA (Evangelical Alliance) ever run courses like that. The course is designed to better support people in this situation.

“We are not running a course to ‘cure queers’, as was said to me in an abusive message,” he told the Belfast Telegraph.

Church rainbow flag

Related: UK government: Gay cure therapy is ‘ineffective and potentially harmful’

However, activists are arguing that the rhetoric about celibacy will still be damaging.

Gay actor and singer Conleth Kane said that the event was “dangerous” and “sends out the totally wrong message to people”.

“Look at the levels of suicide because of people’s guilt over their sexuality. It’s saying that being gay is wrong and that people ‘should turn to the light’, as it were.

“It’s such a dangerous thing to promote to vulnerable young people from the LGBT community, and for me again shows how far behind Northern Ireland is in terms of equality.”

Peter Lynas of the Evangelical Alliance, which is working in conjunction with the Willowfield church, said that “it is vital that churches and people of faith have the freedom to discuss human sexuality and how it is lived out within their religious life together.”

Lynas added that the event aimed to “banish any homophobia in their churches”/

“This event does not feature conversion, reparative or ‘gay cure’ therapy. No efforts are being made to change anyone’s sexuality and reports to the contrary are false and misleading,” he said.