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Local groups launch petition against event they say will be harmful to LGBTQ2+ community

The Youth Project and Halifax Pride say the Maritime Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church has invited "ex-gay" speakers to an upcoming conference next month
(file photo)

Two local groups have launched an online petition calling on a church to cancel the appearance of two speakers they say are essentially promoting gay conversion therapy.

LGBTQ2+ organizations, The Youth Project and Halifax Pride, say the Maritime Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church has invited "ex-gay" speakers to an upcoming conference next month.

"The speakers, Mike Carducci and Danielle Harrison from 'Coming Out Ministries', share personal stories involving and encouraging a process of ridding oneself of being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender through prayer and religious devotion," states the online petition.

The mission statement for Coming Out Ministries posted in their website says, "No greater joy has been experienced in our lives than that which has freed us from the chains of homosexuality."

Coming Out Ministries has said they don't promote "conversion" or "reparative" therapy, but The Youth Project's executive director Kate Shewan says that's the message they're spreading.

"Essentially they're saying being gay or trans is wrong and there's something that's possible to change through religion or counselling, but really attempts to change people in this way have proven to be really harmful," she told NEWS 95.7.

The Canadian Psychological Association agrees conversion therapy can be damaging.

Their official position states, "Conversion or reparative therapy can result in negative outcomes such as distress, anxiety, depression, negative self-image, a feeling of personal failure, difficulty sustaining relationships, and sexual dysfunction."

Shewan is concerned about the impact this conference could have on any young people who attend.

"It's coming from a place of shame where the message is that being queer or trans means you're broken or damaged and need fixing."

The Youth Project and Halifax Pride have sent a letter to the church, urging them to cancel the talk.

Shewan has since been in contact with a church representative over the phone, and says it doesn't sound like they plan to call off the event.

Mark Hodgins

About the Author: Mark Hodgins

Mark Hodgins is an Ontario-born Haligonian. A graduate of the Loyalist College journalism program, he’s been with NEWS 95.7 since 2016. Mark is a lover of sports, politics and video games.
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