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Church News

Christian Labour MP says he supports ban on conversion therapy as he discusses Jesus House with LGBT+ group

The Christian Labour MP Stephen Timms has met with his local LGBT+ group to discuss both their responses to Sir Keir Starmer's comments about Jesus House church. 

On Monday, the Labour leader apologised for visiting the church because people had told him the church supported conversion therapy and because it believes that the Bible supports heterosexual marriage only. 

East Ham MP Stephen Timms, who is part of the leadership team of his own church, wrote on Twitter on Thursday: "Good meeting this morning with @LGBTLabourLDN. I oppose conversion therapy and support the proposed ban. We agreed that faith groups have done amazing work supporting communities in the pandemic."

Labour LGBT+ replied: "We had a good meeting with Stephen Timms MP this morning. He understands the hurt he caused the LGBT+ community following his tweet on Monday. He stands with us against conversion therapy and we look forward to him voting for the ban when it is tabled in Parliament."

Earlier in the week, Timms had tweeted: "I applaud the extraordinary work of @jesushouseuk, and of churches and other faith groups, in supporting our communities throughout the past year." This was after Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer apologised for visiting the church because of its beliefs about LGBT+ issues and he has been criticised for hurting the LGBT+ community. 

Timms also told Premier on Tuesday: "I really want to add my voice to applaud the support of Jesus House for its community over the past year...Never in my lifetime have we been in a situation where churches have had such a key role in supporting families, and frankly, keeping people alive.

"The debt we owe to our churches is enormous and things have been really hard for hundreds of 1000s of families over the past year, they'd have been much, much worse without the extraordinary help that our churches have provided."

Pastor Agu Irukwu, the leader of Jesus House, has repeatedly denied allegations of conversion therapy, despite several media outlets and social media accounts repeating them, with him saying: "We do not engage in any form of conversion therapy. We, as a church, provide appropriate pastoral support, including prayer, to all our members, whatever life situations or circumstances they find themselves in. This is consistent with the basic fundamentals of freedom of speech and freedom of religion and the government's current position."

The local LGBT+ group now expect Timms to vote for a ban on conversion therapy when it comes to the House of Commons, which has been debated in parliament this year. 

Conversion therapy can mean different things to different people as it encompasses a wide range of activities that seek to stop someone acting on their homosexuality or changed gender identity. 

Some Christians oppose conversion therapy in any form, such as Stephen Doughty, a gay Christian Conservative MP, who believes sexuality should not be sought to be altered. 

Others, such as the Christian group Living Out and the Evangelical Alliance, oppose physical attempts to change someone's sexuality but fear a ban needs to be clearly defined as could make it illegal for church members to pray together or discuss not acting on their sexuality. They argue that the option of prayer and support with sexuality is vital for all Christians and that they would do this with straight non-married couples as well. 

The Government have committed to banning it, causing campaign groups to question why it has not been tabled yet. 

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