DUP MLA Thomas Buchanan is facing criticism after he shared a Facebook post from an “ex-gay” Oklahoma woman who said she turned away from “sinfulness”.
The original post was shared by Allison Nunley and included two photos of herself: one from when she openly gay and another more recent snap showing her with long hair and wearing more conservative clothes.
In the post, Nunley decried the fact that she “lived a homosexual lifestyle for several years” and attended Pride parades.
“I said things like: ‘I was born this way,’ ‘God is love,’ ‘He knows my heart’ and ‘Who are you to judge?’ Nunley wrote.
She went on to claim that God opened her eyes to her “sinfulness” and gifted her “true repentance and faith” five years ago, which prompted her to renounce her sexuality.
“I pray he does the same for those not only in the LGBTQ+ community, but all those whom have never tasted of His grace,” Nunely added.
Buchanan shared the post on Facebook on Monday (7 June) without comment – and he quickly faced furious replies from constituents and other Northern Irish people.
Some commenters flooded the post with messages such as “protect trans kids” and “gay rights”.
DUP’s Thomas Buchanan accused of sharing ‘malicious anti-LGBT+ propaganda’
Buchanan was condemned by Alliance Party councillor Stephen Donnelly, who said Northern Ireland’s LGBT+ community deserve better from their elected representatives.
“Politicians have a duty to stand up for the inclusion of minorities. However, unfortunately this is not the first time Tom Buchanan has shared malicious anti-LGBT propaganda,” Donnelly said.
“Our community is strengthened by its diversity and there is a wish across West Tyrone for us to continue building a society where people are equal, differences are respected and where acceptance prevails over intolerance, instead of cruelly dismissing people as sinful because of how they were born.
“LGBT people in West Tyrone serve better than having their very existence being opposed by their local DUP MLA,” he added.
“Instead of targeting and attempting to stigmatise them even further, Mr Buchanan would be better speaking to LGBT people and hearing first hand how damaging posts such as his are.”
John O’Doherty, director of The Rainbow Project, told Belfast Live: “We are disappointed but not surprised to see DUP MLA Tom Buchanan once again sharing anti-LGBTQIA+ messaging on social media.
“Mr Buchanan would be better off listening to the lived experiences of LGBTQIA+ people in his local constituency, including those whose lives have been immeasurably impacted by conversion therapy, than sharing posts like this.”
O’Doherty called on the DUP’s new leadership to engage with Northern Ireland’s LGBT+ community and said they should no longer limit themselves to “outdated and life-destroying beliefs.”
This is not the first time Buchanan has faced backlash for his anti-LGBT+ comments. In April, he was heavily criticised by LGBT+ activists after he sent “condescending and disrespectful” responses to campaigners pushing for a full ban on conversion therapy.
In an email, Buchanan said a motion to ban conversion therapy – which was subsequently passed by the Northern Ireland Assembly – failed to provide “protection for Christian ministers and pastors of the gospel who set for the way of eternal life for all people through faith and repentance in the Lord Jesus Christ as their saviour”.
Buchanan – who is a retired school teacher – also faced furious backlash in 2013 when he told children that homosexuality is “an abomination” and “isn’t right”.