University's refusal to screen ex-gay film sparks protest

(Pixabay/igorovsyannykov)A university's refusal to screen a film about people who have left homosexuality has sparked protests.

Protesters gathered outside a Northern Ireland university on Tuesday over its refusal to screen a film that highlights the story of people who have left homosexuality.

Core Issues Trust (CIT), a charity supporting gay men and women "who voluntarily seek change in sexual preference and expression," wanted to screen the film "Voices of the Silenced" in a private invitation-only event at The Queen's University in Belfast earlier this month. However, the charity said that the university declined its request "without reason."

The organization expressed its plans to file a complaint with the Equality Commission in Northern Ireland over what it described as "viewpoint discrimination" and refusal of services by Queen's University to those representing a valid ex-gay minority group.

"Clearly in Northern Ireland, in line with the rest of the U.K., Christian freedom is restricted to freedom of worship alone. It is an illusion to believe that Christians have freedom of religion or even freedom of conscience," CIT CEO Mike Davidson said after the news of the university's rejection.

"If it is up to the politicians and the leaders of our institutions, Christian values have no place in the public space, which is reserved for the dogmatic religion of secularism, and promotion of LGBT values which alone define diversity and inclusiveness," he added.

The film drew controversy in February after Vue Piccadilly Cinema canceled a reservation for the screening of the movie. At the time, more than 600 people have reportedly signed a petition calling on the cinema not to show the film, claiming that the project was promoting a "gay cure."

Following the cancellation reservation at Vue, the premiere of the film went ahead after producers were offered a conference room at the Emmanuel Centre in Westminster.

The documentary features the testimonies of 15 people "emerging out of homosexual lifestyles" as well as interviews with 18 experts, some of whom "explode the myth of neutral secularism and expose its dangers for society broadly and for Christians specifically."

The screening of the film at the Ballynahinch Baptist Church in County Down has been met with protests on Tuesday. During the screening, about 100 protesters carrying placards and flags picketed the church, with many saying they wanted to show "solidarity with our LGBT community."

The protesters were joined by Sinn Féin assembly member Emma Rogan, who insisted that "conversion therapies should be banned."

Irish News reported that Davidson had previously spoken of how he had previously undergone counseling for homosexuality. During his marriage to his wife, Lynone, Davidson claims to have managed to reject his homosexual urges through a combination of "counselling, prayer and psychotherapy," and claims to be able to help others do the same.

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