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Tory candidate was member of church which endorsed gay conversion therapy

02 Jul 2024 4 minute read
Miriam Cates – Image: UK Parliament / Maria Unger

A Conservative candidate has insisted she does not and has never advocated so-called “gay conversion therapy” after a church of which she was a member and trustee apologised to a man who said he underwent an “exorcism” which attempted to make him straight.

The Diocese of Sheffield issued a statement describing conversion therapy as “unethical, potentially harmful” and something which “has no place in the modern world” after a report upheld the survivor’s complaint.

Miriam Cates, Conservative candidate for Penistone and Stocksbridge in South Yorkshire, was a member of St Thomas Philadelphia Church in Sheffield between 2003 and 2018, and on the Board of Trustees between 2016 and 2018.

An independent investigation by the Barnardo’s charity looked at the case of Matt Drapper, who said he “experienced prayer ministry, which he considers to be an exorcism, and which attempted to change his sexual orientation from gay to straight” in 2014.

The probe, first reported by the BBC, found this complaint – made in 2019 – to be substantiated and that there was a “culture” in the church at the time to be “one in which the presence of evil spirits and ‘ungodly soul ties’ were believed to be the cause of homosexual thoughts, feelings and behaviour and prayers of ‘deliverance’ for homosexuals were not uncommon”.

Mr Drapper has previously told the BBC how he was left feeling “totally empty and not myself” by the experience, which he described as a “trauma”.

The report said it found evidence of such beliefs and practices still being delivered in November 2019, linking “spirit possession and homosexuality and the ways in which these spirits should and could be expelled and how, as a consequence, homosexuals would be ‘healed’”.


The report stated: “It is clear from information provided to us that deliverance ministries in relation to homosexuality was endorsed and supported by the church.”

Deliverance rites were said to be those thought to be able to “exorcise the demons that cause homosexuality” and therefore “allow gay individuals to be ‘healed’”.

A statement on Ms Cates’ behalf said: “During her time as a Trustee, none of these allegations were raised to her knowledge, and no individual raised any such concern with her. If they had she would have taken them very seriously and investigated them.”

It added said there is “no suggestion that any of the events” alleged to have taken place occurred while she was on the board of trustees.

It stated: “For the avoidance of doubt, Miriam does not and has never advocated what is referred to as ‘gay conversion therapy’.

“She has never participated in such activities, and she was not aware – nor was there any way that she could have been aware – of Mr Drapper’s allegations, which were not, to her knowledge, raised during the time that she was on the leadership of the church, and only surfaced after she left.”

Following her time as trustee until 2018, Ms Cates “moved on to a different church for family reasons”, the statement said.

The Diocese of Sheffield said in a statement: “We deeply regret that the process has taken so long and understand the frustrations of those who have been affected. We apologise unreservedly to the survivor for the distress this has caused and to anyone else similarly affected by such practices in the past.

“The Diocese of Sheffield believes, along with the wider Church of England, that conversion therapy is unethical, potentially harmful and has no place in the modern world. The Church of England takes all allegations of misconduct and abuse seriously.”

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Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
12 days ago

Oh, is that Brexiteer Miriam Cates who, by definition, wanted working ‘foreigners’ (I hate that word) out of Britain only then to voice concerns that we Brits are not producing enough children, (because we can’t afford them because of her party’s’ asset stripping ideology) to fill the resultant vacancies so as to sustain the economy in the future? Ah yes, I thought it was.

Daniel Pitt
Daniel Pitt
12 days ago

Women For Handmaid’s Tale

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