Now Reading
Protest of ‘hope’ outside gay ‘leper’ conference

Protest of ‘hope’ outside gay ‘leper’ conference

Activists braved the wet weather to protest against a Christian group's conference which calls gay men and women 'lepers'.

Campaigners gathered outside Belfast's Orangefield Presbyterian Church today, angry at an event run by the Core Issues Trust, a non-profit Christian group which uses 'reparative therapy', helping to 'turn' gay men and women straight.

Protesters at the two-day picket in Northern Ireland, organized by The Rainbow Project, claim the title of the conference – The Lepers Among Us – dehumanizes LGBT people.

Activists waving rainbow flags and carrying placards reading 'love gay, cure bacon' also object to the charity's claim they can change people's sexuality, saying their methods can be harmful.

Malachai O'Hara, The Rainbow Project's mental health development officer, said spirits among picketers were high and the protest was so far 'very dignified and proud'.

He told Gay Star News: 'We wanted to present ourselves as a healthy and happy LGBT community and prove to people that there is hope rather than experiencing internalized homophobia.'

O'Hara says the public response has been overwhelmingly supportive with drives passing by beeping their horns in approval.

He added the activists will be having a debate with the conference organizers and Core Issues Trust.

The Rainbow Project have also launched a petition, already garnering more than 400 signatures, calling for an investigation into Core Issues Trusts' charitable status.

Last June, more than 50 supporters of Northern Ireland's gay community protested outside a similar conference run by Core Issues which claimed to offer a 'gay cure'.

In an official statement sent to The Belfast Telegraph, the trust said this week's event was aimed at exploring the role of evangelical and orthodox churches in supporting men and women with 'unwanted same sex attractions'.

'Core Issues does not offer so-called reparative or conversion therapy but does offer support to individuals conflicted in religious and sexual identity, within a specific ethical framework,' it added.

'It reserves the right to offer alternative orthodox views to those who choose to prioritise a religious identity over their sexual identity.'