CI dismantles ‘useless’ study on conversion practices in Northern Ireland

The Christian Institute has slammed a taxpayer-funded study pushing Northern Ireland to impose a new ‘conversion practices’ law based on the allegations of just ten people.

‘A Study of Conversion Practices in Northern Ireland’, commissioned by LGBT lobby groups with funding from the Department for Communities, features various examples of mainstream Christian beliefs and practice described as conversion practices including participation in “prayer, Bible studies and teaching”.

The Christian Institute’s Acting Director Ciarán Kelly branded the research “impossible to take seriously”, following the study’s own admission that it is unrepresentative of the public.


The study interviewed individuals who claimed they were offered or experienced so-called conversion practices in the last ten years.

One participant alleged that church members spoke to him in the supermarket, urging him not to live as if he was a woman. Over several months, he engaged in “discussions” with two of his ministers because he wanted to explain his interpretation of the Bible.

In their report the authors claimed that seven participants encountered conversion practices through “faith groups”, and “prayer” was listed as one of the “frameworks and techniques involved in conversion practices”.

They argued: “While it is legally acceptable for people to hold prejudicial views, it should not be legally acceptable for people to practice those prejudices, medically, therapeutically or spiritually in ways that harm an already stigmatised group of people.”


Mr Kelly said: “This study is useless. It lacks any kind of academic rigour and should never be used to shape Government policy. By its own admission, it is not representative of the NI public and includes no literature review. All we have are selective odds and ends from conversations with a handful of people.

“It is impossible to take seriously. This is nothing more than activist ‘research’, branded with the campaign colours of a lobby group, yet paid for by Northern Ireland’s hardworking taxpayers.”

He emphasised that the Institute has already warned the Minister for Communities that “we ‘will not hesitate, where appropriate, to seek a judicial review’ if proposals from the Department interfere with the ordinary work of churches”.

Prime Minister

Earlier this month, church leaders from a range of Christian denominations urged the Prime Minister to oppose attempts to outlaw conversion practices.

In a letter to Rishi Sunak, nine church leaders — including Free Church of Scotland Moderator Revd Prof Robert Akroyd — warned that “teaching ordinary Christian virtues, would inevitably fall foul of a law against ‘changing’, ‘negating’ or ‘suppressing’ the identities of the ‘LGBTQ+’ movement”.

They urged the Prime Minister to “oppose both the amendments and private members’ bills being brought to Parliament and plans to legislate in the devolved administrations, and withdraw your government’s commitment to bring its own legislation”.

Conservative MP Alicia Kearns’ amendment to the UK Government’s Criminal Justice Bill could criminalise both Christians who pray about repentance with an LGBT friend, and parents who dissuade their child from taking puberty blockers.

Also see:

Person looking into mirror

Scot Govt wants to steamroll through conversion practices law

£1 million in taxpayer funds for LGBT lobby group which opposes Cass Review

‘Conversion practices’ Bill fails in House of Commons

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