A British Christian ministry that offers therapy to individuals with unwanted same-sex attraction will sue a major bank that closed its account.
Core Issues Trust, which is based in Northern Ireland, plans to file legal action against Barclays Bank for its decision back in July to close the ministry's account.
Michael Phelps of the British legal group Christian Concern told the Financial Mail in comments published Saturday that he believes the bank discriminated against Core Issues Trust.
“This is about the belief [Core Issues Trust] holds concerning sexual orientation — that it is not necessarily innate or that you are born with it, that it can change over time, and that change can in part be affected by therapy that you undertake,” stated Phelps.
“Barclays is not being asked to propagate a message it disagrees with, but to provide a bank account. It is acting as a moral arbiter of what views in society are acceptable and not acceptable.”
For its part, Barclays defended its decision in a short statement to the Financial Mail, arguing that it had a right to end their business with the nonprofit ministry.
“Our terms and conditions — like other banks — allow us to end a relationship with any customer, provided we give two months' notice,” stated the bank.
In July, Barclays informed Mike Davidson, the founder of Core Issues Trust, that the bank was going to close their accounts by September, due to their therapy practices.
Core Issues Trust offers support for individuals with unwanted same-sex attraction "voluntarily seeking to leave homosexual behaviours and feelings."
Also called “reparative therapy,” such therapy has been widely condemned by many psychiatric organizations, as well as current Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who vowed to eventually ban it in the United Kingdom.
“On the gay conversion therapy thing, I think that's absolutely abhorrent and has no place in a civilised society, and has no place in this country,” stated Johnson back in July, as reported by the BBC.
“What we are going to do is a study right now on, you know, where is this actually happening, how prevalent is it, and we will then bring forward plans to ban it.”
Core Issues Trust makes it clear that it "respects the rights of individuals who identify as 'gay' who do not seek change, and supports dignity for LGBT persons."
Those who seek support are usually "people of faith, and often they have experienced sexual feelings that are unwanted, or have found themselves addicted to sexual behaviours or fantasies that have become damaging. They want to change their lives and find different ways of living. They also seek a different understanding about what they have experienced."
An online petition in support of the ministry garnered more than 71,000 signatures. It argues that the nonprofit does not engage in abusive treatments for LGBT individuals.
“CIT do not offer controversial ‘conversion therapy’ but rather one-to-one counselling and support for those living with unwanted feelings of same-sex attraction and gender confusion, helping them to live their lives via traditional Christian principles,” read the petition in part.
“No compulsion or coercion is involved and neither do they employ any physically or emotionally abusive techniques.”