In July 2020, the bank suspended its dealings with the Core Issues Trust and the International Federation for Therapeutic and Counselling Choice, per The Times.
The non-profit Christian ministry, based in Northern Ireland, is one that supports those who decide to change their sexual preference, expression, and/or gender identity. The report noted that it is the only Christian ministry of its kind in the UK. However, LGBT activists claimed that the ministry was carrying out conversation therapy, a practice set to be banned by the government.
Barclays is said to be a top-ranked LGBT employer according to the charity Stonewall, and they are also a major sponsor of London’s Pride parade. Subsequently, the trust claimed that the bank had given in to calls from LGBT campaigners to drop the accounts.The trust said that it had received 300 nuisance phone calls and other intimidating messages. This included an apparent text message to its chief executive, Dr. Mike Davidson, who describes himself as ex-gay, that expressed hope that the trust’s staff members’ relatives would be raped and killed, per the report.
Consequently, Davidson was supported by the Christian Legal Centre in beginning a legal claim against the bank. Lawyers claimed that the closure of the accounts was “an act of unlawful discrimination.”
More than 700,000 people signed a petition demanding that Barclays reinstate the accounts and stop discriminating against the Christian ministry. However, Barclays doubled down, refusing to apologize or reinstate the accounts.
The bank claimed that it had not discriminated against Davidson “directly or indirectly on the grounds of any religious, philosophical or political belief.” One week before the case was to be heard at the High Court, the bank made a settlement of £21,500 in compensation, with legal costs yet to be distributed. Davidson accepted the offer.
“We reject Barclays bank’s implied accusations of ‘conversion therapy’,” Davidson said, “directed at our work and charity. This case must serve as a warning to the government of what is coming if it proceeds with publishing and enforcing its ‘conversion therapy’ ban.”
Barclays stated: “This is a commercial settlement, predicated on our assessment of the costs of defending this claim to conclusion against the cost of settling the matter today.”