Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Times: Dozens protest against gay ‘conversions’
19.5.2011 by Fiona Galea Debono

A peaceful protest against “harmful gay conversion attempts and fairy-tale beliefs” was yesterday held outside the River of Love Christian Fellowship in Żebbuġ, where homosexuals had testified to their change to “freedom from that lifestyle”.

Around 40 protestors gathered outside the premises in Mdina Road to send a message to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, or transgenders (LGBT) and their families that sexual orientation was something to be celebrated, not repressed.

Chanting “being gay’s OK”, they carried placards saying: “Can your gods cure my left-handedness too” and “I used to have red hair but now I’m healed”. They staged a mock conversion ceremony, whereby straight guys turned gay.

The protest was provoked by evangelical pastor Gordon-John Manché’s recent Christian community event to present personal testimonies of homosexuals whose lives had been “turned around by the love and power of Jesus Christ”.

The announcement led to an outcry on Facebook, and a previous planned protest to stand up to the claim that homosexuality could be “changed”, was cancelled after a permit was not obtained because it had been applied for too late.

The Malta Gay Rights Movement, which organised the protest, said it found efforts to change someone’s sexual preferences not only useless but also harmful to their self-worth in that they were forced to believe something was wrong with them.

“Such fairy-tale beliefs are making the lives of many miserable,” the movement said.
Addressing the protestors, MGRM coordinator Gabi Calleja made an appeal to parents of minors who forced their children to visit psychologists in the belief that they were sick and could be cured. She said help should be sought in appropriate ways and not by going to therapists who may believe being gay was wrong.

She said allegations that a psychologist was practising reparative therapy would be looked into and passed on to the Malta Psychology Profession Board, if necessary.

Speaking outside the River of Love, Mr Manché denied the use of reparative therapy and rejected any allegation that his psychologist wife was practising it as “a lie from the pit of hell”.
He said the protestors were “wasting their time. We are not against gays. We love everyone. Everyone is free to do what they want. These three persons simply encountered Christ and felt, out of their own choice, that Jesus had changed them.

“We have also had testimonies of those who are no longer abusing drugs, or leading an adulterous life,” Mr Manché added.

His event was “based on the love of Christ but was hijacked and turned into a hate spree”, he said.

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