UN raises concerns over ‘gay conversion’ charity after NSS briefing

Posted: Tue, 9th Apr 2024

Charity regulator's failure to act on gay conversion therapy suggests it is "a protected religious practice" in Northern Ireland, says UN

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The UN Human Rights Committee has expressed concerns that gay 'conversion therapy' may be considered "a protected religious practice in Northern Ireland", following a briefing from the National Secular Society.

Last month in Geneva, the NSS briefed Committee members on Core Issues Trust (CIT), an NI based Christian charity that claims to support people with "unwanted homosexual behaviours" and 'sexual brokenness' through what it has termed "change orientated therapy". It is registered under the charitable purpose 'the advancement of religion'.

The NSS raised concerns with the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland regarding CIT in 2020. The Commission refused to take action, and noted CIT presents its therapy as "beneficial" and "contests the view that this practice is inherently harmful".

The harm caused by gay conversion therapy has been widely acknowledged by leading psychotherapy bodies and the UK government.

The Human Rights Committee has now recommended the UK government address the issue as part of its 2024 Concluding Observations.

Every five years, the Committee publishes Concluding Observations on the state of human rights in the UK, as enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

NSS: 'The state has no place subsidising gay conversion therapy'

NSS campaigns officer Alejandro Sanchez said: "We're encouraged to see the Committee has taken our briefing on board.

"The state has no place subsidising a Christian charity devoted to the practice of gay conversion therapy. It's yet another example of a charity registered under 'the advancement of religion' spreading harm.

"The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland should now abide by the Committee's recommendations and end Core Issue's Trust charitable status. And the NI Assembly should review the charitable purpose of 'the advancement of religion' and its role in enabling harm in the charity sector."

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Tags: Charity, LGBT