Vue Cinemas has cancelled a private screening of a controversial documentary about “conversion therapy” after protests from LGBT+ rights campaigners.
Voices of the Silenced: Experts, Evidences and Ideologies features testimony from 15 people who claim to have “emerged out of homosexual lifestyles” after undergoing so-called gay cure treatments.
The private UK premiere organised by the evangelical Christian group Core Issues Trust was due to be held at Vue Piccadilly in central London tomorrow evening. The group, which had hired a screen for the premiere, said it was "disappointed" by the decision and insisted that the documentary was not "hateful".
However, after invitations were sent out to press, more than 600 people signed a petition calling for the screening to be cancelled after details were obtained by Pink News, an LGBT+ new publisher.
Some people said they would boycott the chain if the film was shown.
The website reports that the film was due to be shown at the central London venue up until Tuesday February 6, when the decision was taken to drop the screening. The booking was made in November and Lucy Northmore, the group PR manager for Vue International, said: “we received the content on the January 22.”
Stonewall said it was "shocking" that the cinema had initially agreed to show a film about the "unethical and degrading" practice.
A spokeswoman for Vue said: "Vue review all private screening bookings once content and full details have been received in full. While it is not our intention to censor content, in some instances where we feel an activity is in direct contradiction to Vue's values a decision will be made to refrain from allowing a private event to go ahead. Vue has therefore cancelled a private event request by Core Issues Trust and Christian Concern due to the event endorsing and promoting a 'cure' to being gay."
Mike Davidson, chief executive of the group, said: "I really don't see what their problem is. This is not anything that is hateful, it's about representing the needs and aspirations of a group in the population who are underrepresented, misunderstood and frankly poorly treated in society." He added: "We think this is an appalling way for Vue to treat anybody."
Mr Davidson said 126 ticket-holders, including people from Africa, Northern Ireland and Europe, were due to attend the event.
Core Issues Trust is seeking legal advice about the cancelled booking, he added.
A spokesman for LGBT charity Stonewall said: "It's disappointing that Vue Piccadilly would consider screening a documentary about so-called 'conversion therapy'. LGBT people aren't ill. Being gay, lesbian, bi or trans is not something that should be 'cured' or changed. This unethical and degrading practice has been condemned by all major UK health organisations. It's shocking that Vue Piccadilly initially viewed this as a suitable film to sreen"