River of Love member Matthew Grech will be assisted by a Christian-orientated legal firm as he faces charges of breaching legislation prohibiting gay conversion therapy.
Grech is expected to be charged in court on February 3 following comments he made on a PMnews website programme during which he discussed how he "stopped being" a homosexual.
Christian Legal Centre - the non-profit legal arm of the NGO advocacy group Christian Concern - will help defend Grech against the “discriminatory” charges to be levied against him.
In a video he posted to Facebook on Sunday, Grech said he is being accused of promoting gay conversion therapy. This is in direct breach of Malta's 2016 law banning the practice.
Grech is, however, insisting that all he did was share his experience as a former homosexual who “left homosexuality”.
“We were just having a conversation as we have a right to in this country... So, for us, it is unthinkable to get to this point,” he said.
“Criminalising someone for telling their story of freedom and change from unwanted and unfulfilling sexual behaviours is discriminatory and violates their Christian freedoms and fundamental human right to free speech,” chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre Andrea Williams said in a statement.
“It is vital to win this case,” she said, explaining that this legal battle will affect Christian freedoms […] to leave homosexuality and unwanted same-sex attraction across the world.”
It is unclear how the organisation will be aiding Grech in his legal plight, their statement describing their help as “assisting the legal defence”.
Bans 'tyrannical' and 'draconian' - Grech
The group's statement also featured Grech vowing to continue to raise awareness on the "danger and harm" that conversion therapy bans cause.
He warned that "if we don’t act now, more countries will introduce such bans as if they were a charitable noble cause that is saving lives and works for the common good, when they are tyrannical, draconian and will achieve the opposite of what they set out to".
He continued that he is committed to keep sharing his testimony "because I don’t want other men and women to go through what I went through in my upbringing and adolescence.
"I don’t want them to be victims of unwanted sexual feelings. I don’t want them to be robbed of the biblical side of the story around sex, sexuality and marriage. I don’t want the masses to believe ‘born gay, cannot change’, and allow that to go unchallenged."
Grech said that the lobbies and gay rights movements behind the bans take a single moral viewpoint around human sexuality, and enforce it on the entire population. This causes legal confusion, and discourages journalists from exploring the other side of the story, he said.
“Many of us in ex-LGBT ministry are experiencing an increasing silencing from the general press and media, and are noticing a decreasing public interest in the exploration of the ‘ex-LGBT’ reality, which we believe is driven by the intimidation and fear these bans are creating," Grech said.
Malta was the first EU state to introduce a ban on gay conversion therapy in 2016 and, according to the Christian legal group, is being used as a blueprint for similar bans.
Parliamentary Secretary for Reforms and Equality Rebecca Buttigieg a strengthening of the current ban only a few days ago.
The amendment will redefine what it means to "advertise" the practice by expanding it to include the publishing, advertising, displaying, distributing, referral and circulation of any material promoting the practice.
If found guilty, Grech faces up €5,000 in fines or a maximum of five-months in jail.
On Tuesday, British Culture Minister Michelle Donelan announced that a proposal to ban conversion therapy in England and Wales will be published soon and will include practices aimed at transgender people.
In April 2022, more than 100 organisations pulled out of LGBT+ conference, Safe To Be Me, when Boris Johnson’s government chose to exclude transgender conversion therapy from a promised ban.
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