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World News

Church leader writes to PM urging rethink on law which would 'criminalise Christians'

by Donna Birrell

A ban on so-called 'conversion therapy' is expected to be announced in the King's Speech in Parliament in November.

However, many Christian leaders are opposing any ban, fearing it would restrict the right of parents to speak to their children about traditional Christian teachings on sexuality.

The law would outlaw so-called treatments that claim to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity.

Graham Nicholls is the Director of Affinity, which is a network of 1200 churches and Christian organisations. He's just written a letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak saying a ban would run the risk of criminalising Christians and church leaders for expressing mainstream, orthodox beliefs. He says it would be an “unreasonable curtailment of our freedom of thought and religion.”

He told Premier the ban would outlaw "Christian pastors, Christian parents, Christian youth workers, speaking to children or adults, about the fact of the Bible's teaching about sexuality and gender. It would actually ban those kinds of conversations. Any kind of conversation where a Christian leader or Christian parent or a Christian pastor suggests 'this is what the Bible teaches' and suggests it's better to do what the Bible teaches than not to do what the Bible teaches.

“Normal conversations that youth leaders and pastors and parents have all the time with their children about behaviour would specifically be banned for talking about sexuality and gender.”

Asked why the government is pushing ahead with a ban, Graham Nicholls said:

“I think there's a bit of politics and probably a bit of naivety. There may be a block of votes and a block of MPs that would be happier if they did it. I'm sure there are some who genuinely think there are terrible practices that go on that we need to ban, so it's a good thing. And there are probably others who are more ideologically committed to saying you should never question someone's sexual practice or gender identity. But I think there's more politics and pragmatics going on than anything.

“We need to pray that the ban doesn't go ahead, and we want to pray for good safeguards if it does go ahead. But beyond that, pray that we would be not an irritant in society, but that we would be bold and kind in the way that we deal with whatever and we'll come through.”

Earlier this month, the Association of Christian Teachers also wrote to the Prime Minister to express its opposition to any new law on conversion therapy.



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