Christian campaigners have warned the Welsh Government not to promote ‘repressive ideology’ in its proposals to ban so-called conversion therapy.
Let Us Pray, which campaigns to prevent the ordinary work of churches from being included in a broad ban, said the Welsh Government’s working group on “actions to ban conversion practices in Wales for all LGBTQ+ people” contains activists seeking to outlaw ‘gentle, non-coercive prayer’.
It is spearheaded by The Christian Institute which has instructed solicitors to prepare the ground for a potential judicial review of any laws banning ‘conversion therapy’ that restrict religious freedom.
The Welsh Government stated that it has commissioned legal advice to confirm if it would need to seek any additional devolution powers in order “to ban conversion therapy in its entirety”.
Included in the working group is LGBT activist and General Synod member Jayne Ozanne, who previously admitted wanting to ban “gentle, non-coercive prayer”. In response to joining the group, Ozanne claimed so-called conversion therapy “happens in many churches” and is “abhorrent, harmful and abusive”.
The Welsh Government announced the group the same day Westminster confirmed that its proposals for England and Wales will apply to those struggling with gender-confusion — contradicting assurances made while Boris Johnson was Prime Minister.
Let Us Pray spokesman Simon Calvert stated: “We all want to protect people from abuse or coercion. But ideological campaigners have weaponised the concept of safeguarding in their intolerant campaign to criminalise churches that do not embrace their particular brand of LGBT theology.
“Wales must not repeat Scotland’s mistake of listening only to one side of the discussion.
“These are contentious issues that require proper consideration and a careful balancing of rights, not appointing a rigged advisory group to validate the idea of cancelling freedom of thought and worship.”
In a recent legal opinion for The Christian Institute, Aidan O’Neill KC warned that the Scottish Government’s “fundamentally illiberal” proposals for a ban are “beyond the powers of the Scottish Parliament to legislate”.
He explained that were the Scottish Government to adopt its ‘Expert Group’s’ recommendations, “this would have the undoubted effect of criminalising much mainstream pastoral work of churches”.
Mr O’Neill continued: “Prayers and sermons would be criminalised if their content did not conform to the new State requirements only to affirm, validate and support the identity and lived experience expressed and stated by an individual”.