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Facebook and Instagram bans 'conversion therapy' content, removes posts from Northern Irish ministry group

Instagram and Facebook has announced that it will be banning any content that promotes conversion therapy after activists lobbied the social media giant to prohibit the practice from being advertised on its platform. 

The decision comes as a Northern Irish ministry group had its social media posts censored after openly promoting the practice, which involves talking therapy and various pseudo-scientific methods to try and change a person's sexual orientation and desires. The Core Issues Trust, which is headed up by activist Dr Mike Davidson and based just outside of Belfast, says it is committed to "supporting men and women with homosexual issues who voluntarily seek change in sexual preference and expression".

Announcing the ban, Tara Hopkins, Instagram's public policy director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, told CNN: "We don't allow attacks against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity and are updating our policies to ban the promotion of conversion therapy services.

"We have removed violating content from @coreissuestrusttv. We are always reviewing our policies and will continue to consult with experts and people with personal experiences to inform our approach."

The platform will also reject testimonial content that purports to praise or recommend conversion therapy as a legitimate treatment. 

In a video post on Tuesday, Mike Davidson said the group had "had some difficulties with Facebook" but hoped to "get it sorted out in the not too distant future".

He added: "In the meantime, you may find some really difficult things on our Facebook page. I hope you'll realise that we really have had no control in terms of what has been put up whilst we've been put out of the Facebook context. We'll be attending to that and making sure everything is positive, respectful and godly in everything that we present."

Two years after promising to ban conversion therapy, the UK government said in May that it had not yet come to a decision on whether to push ahead with legislation outlawing the practice. Replying to a question about plans for legislation, equalities minister Kemi Badenoch insisted that it was a "very complex issue".

She added: "There are a wide range of practices which may fall within its scope and we want to ensure we have a thorough understanding of the situation in the UK to inform an effective approach.

"Before any decision is made on proposals for ending conversion therapy we must understand the problem, the range of options available and the impact they would have.

"We will work to deepen our understanding and consider all options for ending the practice of conversion therapy."

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