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Gay presenter confronts conversion therapy advocate on live TV: ‘Are you homophobic?’

·5-min read

Conversion therapy advocate Mike Davidson was grilled by gay host Alan Hughes about his stance on queer people’s rights and freedoms on live TV.

Davidson runs Core Issues Trust, a Northern Irish charity that claims to support “men and women with homosexual issues who voluntarily seek change in sexual preference”.

He appeared on Virgin Media Television‘s Ireland AM on Thursday morning (6 May), where in a wide-ranging interview he vehemently denied that he practices conversion therapy, claiming he instead offers “conversation therapy” to LGBT+ people who want to change their identity.

He claimed that Core Issues Trust helps people understand “whether they want to proceed into a gay identity and continue with those behaviours or go in a different direction”.

When asked directly if he thinks being gay is wrong, Mike Davidson spoke of his own efforts to rid himself of same-sex desires.

“I can only speak for myself. I was a married man very much in conflict and I had a choice and together my wife and I made the decision that I would look for help if I could do that, and that’s what I did over a period of a couple of years – three years – I got professional help,” Davidson said.

“Mike, I’m not suggesting that people don’t have the right, I’m asking you, do you think it’s wrong to be gay?” a frustrated Hughes asked him.

“If you ask my opinion it’s not the best way to go. I think it has consequences for individuals and society.”

Mike Davidson Core Issues Trust
Mike Davidson Core Issues Trust

Hughes told Davidson that he still wasn’t answering the question, asking him once again if he thinks it’s wrong to be gay.

In response, Davidson said people “have to be what they are” and said he wants to “protect the choices” of those who seek therapy to change their identity.

Davidson went on to claim that people of “mixed sexual attraction” – better known as bisexual or pansexual people – should have an “open choice” to access conversion therapy and disavow their sexual orientation if they see fit.

I think probably it was a combination of the fact that I felt I had a conscience, I just felt this was innately wrong.

“If a person is bisexual, which I guess people would describe me as, and they choose to enhance the heterosexual side of their bisexuality, that should be an open choice because that is something that a very large percentage of the proportion of the population would seek if they could,” Davidson said, providing no evidence to back up his claims.

When asked why he wanted to disavow his sexual attraction to men, Davidson said: “I think probably it was a combination of the fact that I felt I had a conscience, I just felt this was innately wrong, and yes, I did have a faith as a child perhaps nominally, later on as a teenager in a much more committed way. So I wouldn’t deny that my faith and my understanding of the scriptures have influenced me, they certainly have.”

Gay presenter Alan Hughes asked Mike Davidson if he has a problem with his marriage

Tensions reached a climax when Davidson baselessly claimed suicidal ideation remains high among queer people in countries where same-sex marriage has been legalised.

“Sorry Mike, where are we going with this? What’s suicide got to do about being gay?” Hughes asked him.

He urged Davidson to “not go down the road” of claiming that gay people are at higher risk of suicide because of their sexuality.

Towards the end of the tense interview, Hughes asked Davidson if he has a problem with the fact that he is married to a “lovely husband”.

“I want to respect your legal right. If you’re asking me my own world view, I would say that marriage is between one man and one woman for life and those are the principles that I hold to.”

Hughes asked him: “Everyone’s entitled to their point of view, but are you homophobic? Are you a bigot? Are you homophobic and biased against gay people?”

Mike Davidson claimed that he is not homophobic because he has “been there” and “struggled” with his own sexuality.

“Now I have no doubt that you have a genuine relationship with the person that you are married to. And that’s your right and your privilege, but not everybody wants that, and I’m just saying we need to protect their rights,” Davidson said.

Many took to social media to share their frustration with Davidson’s comments, while others said it was “dangerous” and irresponsible for Ireland AM to have him on as a guest in the first place.

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The conversation comes just weeks after Northern Ireland’s Assembly voted overwhelmingly in favour of a motion that calls for conversion therapy to be banned in the region.

Conversion therapy has been widely discredited by almost every major psychiatric body, while the United Nations has called for the torturous practice to be banned worldwide.

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