Christian group uses Pulse shooting anniversary to promote conversion therapy

Hundreds of flowers and tributes to those killed in the Pulse Nightclub shooting.

An anti-LGBTQ+ group has re-iterated its support for “conversion therapy” as queer communities around the world mark the anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting.

Liberty Counsel, a legal organisation that engages in litigation to promote Christian values, appeared to use the shooting to try to erase the “LGBTQ+ lifestyle”.

The group claimed in a blog post on Tuesday (11 June) that a survivor of the attack – 49 people were killed and more than 50 othersinjured in the mass shooting inside a gay nightclub in Florida – was now the head of a “Christian change counselling” organisation.

The term Christian change counselling seems to be a synonym for conversion therapy – an attempt to forcibly change someone’s sexuality or gender identity.

The post describes survivor Angel Colon’s experiences during the massacre, saying he was “drunk and high” before gunman Omar Mateen opened fire in the early hours of 12 June, eight years ago.

“I was petrified, knowing I was next,” Colon told Liberty Counsel. “I prophetically claimed my life for the Lord. I told Him I would not leave that building dead, that I had a purpose, and He would fulfil all the promises He made over my life.

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“I knew in that moment that I was chosen, and God had something big for me.”

Crowds holding candles dedicated to those who died during the Pulse Nightclub shooting.
Crowds hold candles in memory of those who died in the Pulse nightclub shooting. (Getty)

Several years after the atrocity, Colon, alongside fellow survivor Luis Javier Ruiz, founded Fearless Identity, an organisation that seeks to “bring hope” and “biblical understanding” to LGBTQ+ individuals.

Various groups have branded their practices conversion therapy, but the pair deny this and have said they are trying to teach churches not to judge the LGBTQ+ community.

In the post, Liberty Counsel praised Colon for choosing to “leave the homosexual lifestyle“.

The post continued: “Six bullets couldn’t stop Angel from speaking the truth in love to others trapped in this behaviour. But bans on Christian change counselling are silencing Christian mental-health counsellors and people like Angel from rescuing those trapped in an LGBTQ lifestyle.”

The organisation specifically targets HR15, known as the Equality Act, which seeks to enshrine bans on conversion therapy into federal law in the US.

Joe Biden has continually urged lawmakers to pass the act, saying that the rights of queer Americans have been under “relentless attack.”

In response, Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver criticised the president for banning conversion therapy “simply because it is Bible-based.”

Staver went on to say: “Liberty Counsel has fought hard to overturn 23 bans on counselling that tell the truth about gender dysphoria and God’s design for human sexuality. But 87 bans remain in place across the country.

“Unless we raise a righteous roar that cannot be ignored, the LGBTQ+ agenda might win this fight.”

Liberty Counsel is aiming to file three new cases across the US “defending Christian counsellors” such as Colon, from a conversion therapy ban, and urged supporters to “protect our children” by voting against HR15.

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