An ex-LGBT activist reportedly faces potential prison time after sharing his testimony of leaving behind a gay lifestyle to follow Christ.
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Matthew Grech, who lives in Malta, told CBN’s Faithwire about his journey out of the occult and same-sex relationships and his foray into the Christian faith.
“I was quite interested in New Age. I wanted to become a reiki master,” he said of his life before finding Jesus. “So, I was involved in the occult to some extent as well as being fascinated by energy.”
That lifestyle was obliterated, though, when Grech was invited to church one day and experienced something he had never felt before: “the presence of God” and the love of genuine believers.
He said the impact of that experience was profound, leading him to fully embrace a Christian life.
“I did commit my life to Jesus Christ and it’s been an awesome journey of just growing in this new identity and life,” he said, noting how his faith also led him away from a gay lifestyle. “I stumbled upon Bible verses on homosexuality one day. I had never heard homosexuality addressed from a pulpit before, but I was really challenged and I remember just really wanting to be in the will of God.”
Grech said he committed to prayer and God and decided to shift his life to align with biblical truth. He said he realized, “What society calls gay, I don’t have to wear that label anymore … When I understood that, hope filled my heart … heaviness left my body.”
The former gay activist said he “decided to repent” of his past lifestyle and start to explore his identity in Christ.
Grech’s Legal Woes
Problems began, though, when Grech shared his story with a local outlet in Malta.
He said two presenters with PMnews Malta wanted to know more about the nation’s crackdown on so-called conversion therapy and his take on the matter.
Malta in 2016 became the first European country to ban attempts to “change, repress or eliminate a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression,” leading to fines or even jail time.
Grech, accused of violating Article 3 of Malta’s Affirmation of Sexual Orientation, Gender and Gender Expression Act, described the law as “ideological” and said it instructs people on how they’re supposed to “think about sexuality.” Considering his own personal history, the hosts were reportedly interested in hearing more about his perspective.
“They wanted to understand why I view sexuality differently as a Christian, and why I would do such a thing … just leaving and forsaking homosexuality altogether as an identity practice,” Grech said. “So, we were discussing it. It was scientific, it was practical, it was spiritual, it was a really interesting conversation.”
A transcript of the conversation reportedly shows Grech sharing his story and criticizing Malta’s law, though he does not invite people to change sexual orientations or go to therapy to do so.
Regardless, his discussion apparently didn’t sit well with some critics who heard it — a fact that became apparent when police got involved.
“Police give me a call, and they say … ‘Three people reported you to the police and reported the presenters as well because they’re claiming that you breached … Maltese law, which says that you cannot advertise so-called conversion practices,'” he said. “And so I turned up to the police station with my lawyer. We exercised our right to be silent.”
A few days later, he said the police decided to press charges against both him and the presenters, with the first court case in the matter taking place last month.
“It’s the first time in my life I have to face a criminal court for simply sharing my Christian faith,” Grech said. “That’s what it is … sharing the hope that we have and sharing the reasoning behind what we believe.”
He said he was especially surprised by the legal conundrum considering he had previously shared his story on “X-Factor Malta” and in other venues.
In the end, Grech plans to fight for his rights, though he faces an uphill legal battle.
“The worst case scenario is that I would go to prison for five months or that I would face a 5,000 Euro fine in Malta,” he said. “What could happen as well is that, if we win it, the police will choose to appeal us and it will just go on for longer than we expect.”
The Impact of the Case
Grech believes the entire ordeal intimidates Christians and attempts to discourage people like him from sharing their stories.
“This is creating a lot of stigma and intimidation in society,” he said. “It’s terrible … these laws should have no place in any nation.”
Grech said he will head back to court June 9 and witnesses in the case will be heard.
“We’re preparing with our legal team and we do expect to see God move powerfully,” he said. “We believe we have a strong defense without a shadow of a doubt and we do believe that the present law allows for our testimonies to be shared.”
Grech continued, “I’m really looking forward to this day because I believe that it’s time for us to show the real face of what has been put into legislation, and we need to just really remain bold and uncompromising in our witness.”
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