- 14 Dec 17
In a shocking case featured in this year's Christmas issue, Hot Press have revealed a disturbing incident from 2016 where attempted gay conversion therapy took place in Ireland. It is the first account of this nature to emerge from the Republic.
'Gay conversion theray' is more commonly considered an American phenomenon, and has been associated with US vice president Mike Pence.
This widely discredited treatment is generally associated with places where homophobia is rampant, including evangelical churches in Southern US states and Chechnyan torture camps.
Recent advancements in LGBT rights on the island would suggest that Ireland has totally separated itself from its oppressive Catholic past.
However, evidence also exists to the contrary. The stain left by Church power upon our country continues to show itself in ugly new ways.
The evangelist Christian community still has a presence in modern Ireland, with the most visible evidence being the popularity of religious faith healers.
These healers are colloquially known as those with ‘the cure’ and still tend to be popular in rural towns. While some have branched into Reiki and new age spirituality, most believe they can channel God’s will to cure everything, from cancer to blindness.
Through his research on the topic of faith healers, Hot Press writer Jack Maguire uncovered a case in which a young Dublin man was brought by his parents to a faith healer named Joe Conroy in August 2016 to be 'cured' of his homosexuality.
In an audio recording of the session carried out at the healer's practice in Portlaoise, Conroy tells his client that he has 'treated' several others for the same reason.
He tells the resiliently sceptical youngster before him that he'd received a message from God about “a spirit of intrusion leading you in that direction coming from the bucko [devil]... “you are in fact a heterosexual”.
The healer refused to listen to the man's insistence that his sexuality wasn't an issue, and continued with his tirade of anti-gay rhetoric.
His certainty that he was born gay was dismissed as proof of the devil’s intelligence, that “he just keeps on manipulating you and you need to break the manipulation.”
Over the course of one gruelling hour, Conroy tried to make him feel guilty, by saying that God and his family were disappointed in him and that he was risking an eternity in Hell.
In the issue, Hot Press catch up with the individual who was put through this ordeal and discuss the legality of such activity in Ireland and the potential trauma it could cause.
Read the full story in our current print edition, available here;