Bishop of Manchester:
Faith Leaders Should Face Prosecution For Non-Compliance
on Government Ban of Gay Conversion Therapy
The Bishop of Manchester, The Rt Revd David Walker announced in an self-penned article written for the ViaMedia website and in an interview with The Guardian, that he believes, “Faith leaders should face prosecution if they fail to comply with the government’s promised ban on so-called gay conversion practices.
David Walker, the Bishop of Manchester, told the paper: “Where activity has harmed someone, the person who has caused the harm should face prosecution.” That activity should include prayer aimed at changing someone’s sexual orientation, he added.
He said he was not referring to “gentle, non-coercive prayer, but where there is a level of power imbalance and a level of force”.
The government announced in the Queen’s speech last month that it would hold a consultation on conversion practices before bringing forward legislation on a ban. Campaigners have said the government’s stated intention to ensure that religious freedom and freedom of speech are upheld could lead to loopholes.
The Evangelical Alliance opposes a ban, saying it would put “ministers in jeopardy when they preach, and church members at risk when they pray for each other”.
Walker said: “If I was to stand up on a soapbox and start spewing out hate speech, the fact that I might begin by saying, ‘dear God’ and end by saying, ‘Amen’ wouldn’t protect me from the full force of the law.”
The bishop warned the government against dragging its feet over the ban, saying as long as the practice continued people, would be harmed. “The government has had plenty of time, and we don’t want this dragged out. As long as a ban is not in place, people are at risk,” he said.