Man charged with breaking conversion therapy ban in Malta. A UK Christian group is representing him

A British anti-LGBTQ+ Christian group is supporting a Maltese man in is his legal defence for allegedly breaking Malta’s conversion therapy laws.

Matthew Grech is facing charges of discussing and advertising “conversion practices” in an alleged breach of the country’s law prohibiting conversation therapy.

The comments in question were made during an interview to ‘free-speech’ media outlet PMnews Malta in April 2022.

An apparent transcript of the interview shows he was brought on to talk about how he no longer identifies as homosexual as a result of conversion therapy.

However, Grech told the hosts he “didn’t do conversion therapy as such” because he did not agree with the term.

In the transcript, he talked about being in relationships with men” before becoming an “ex-gay” after engaging with the church.

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He and the two hosts, who the Times of Malta report are also facing charges, spoke about “suppression” of feelings, among other things.

Grech insists all he did was share his experience as a person who “left homosexuality”, the Times of Malta reported.

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The Christian Legal Centre is now acting as defence for Grech for his 3 February court date.

The Christian Legal Centre is part of Christian Concern, a British group that claims “it’s becoming harder to be a Christian in the UK today” and is “building a movement” of Christians “who are passionate to see society changed … by Jesus Christ”.

Among a number of issues it campaigns on are sexuality, gender and marriage, which it believes is “the union between one man and one woman”.

In regards to sexuality, the group labels homosexuality, among other things like pornography and pre-marital sex, a “problem”.

The group also wants to “challenge transgender ideology”, claiming the “confusing and every-changing theories about gender” that have “captured society’s imagination” are “oppressive”.

Times of Malta identified Grech has part of the Maltese River of Love religious movement, which it had previously documented for its stance against homosexuality.

Christian Legal Centre chief executive Andrea Williams said “the actions of the police are deeply concerning”.

“It is vital to win this case, not just for people in Malta, but for Christian freedoms and the freedom to leave homosexuality and unwanted same-sex attraction across the world,” she said.

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In a statement published by the group, Matthew Grech said he was “shocked” and did not think his actions “would be treated so seriously”.

He argued bans on conversion therapy cause “danger and harm”. In fact, many politicians, doctors and human rights groups agree that it’s conversion practices that are dangerous, with a UN expert likening them to torture.

“I am committed to keep sharing my testimony because I don’t want other men and women to go through what I went through in my upbringing and adolescence. I don’t want them to be victims of unwanted sexual feelings,” Grech said.

In 2016, Malta became the first European Union country to ban conversion therapy.

The country is now looking at strengthening the legislation, the Times of Malta has reported.

The UK promised to ban conversion therapy in 2018, but has made several U-turns under successive prime ministers.

A draft bill outlawing the practice was recently promised by ministers.

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