Group defends 'gay therapy' amid protest

Published Tuesday, 14 June 2011
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The group behind a reparative therapy conference at a south Belfast church has defended its stance, amid protests by Northern Ireland's largest gay organisation.

The Core Issues Trust believes that people are not born gay and that they can change.

Co-director Mike Davidson told UTV that reparative therapy should be available for anyone conflicted about their sexuality.

"I don't think gay people would want to be involved in reparative therapy and why should they? They are happy and they are contented in the life that they feel is natural and normal for them - but surely it would be inappropriate to think that one cap fits all," he said.

"Some people are just not happy with that model and really I think it would not be equitable if we did not provide support for them."

But the Rainbow Project, who organised Tuesday's protest, insists Core's message that being gay is a lifestyle choice is dangerous.

People who have been through reparative therapy in the past have experienced such things as depression, difficulty in forming relationships and internalised homophobia.

John O’Doherty, Rainbow Project

"Medical associations across the world are opposing this type of therapy - just last year, the British Medical Association took the decision to oppose this because it harms people," director John O'Doherty told UTV.

"It harms their mental health, it harms their self-esteem and it harms their ability to form relationships in the future."

According to Core, the British Medical Association and others are confusing reparative therapy with conversion therapy.

The group also says it's not suggesting gay people who are not conflicted about their sexuality need or should undertake reparative therapy.

"We don't believe that members of the gay and lesbian community should participate in such therapy," Mr Davidson said.

"Because we need to very clearly distinguish between people who identify themselves as gay and are happy and quite legitimately wish to continue in a gay relationship - we're not wanting to impose a therapeutic opportunity on them - and those who are conflicted in their sexuality."

Californian-based therapist David Pickup is the keynote speaker at the event.

Reparative therapy is based on the premise that homosexuality is not naturally inborn - that there are causes that usually always happen during those very crucial years from two until seven.

David Pickup, reparative therapist

"How can we deny any individual the right to self-determination of sexual identity and support in achieving that?" he said.

The group Changing Attitude Ireland has also voiced concern about the conference and the message it sends out.

"At a time when old prejudices against homosexuality are being questioned and abandoned, it is sad that a local parish church should be accommodating an organisation that believes that homosexuality is a life-style choice," CIA secretary Canon Charles Kenny said.

"There are genuine problems about Christians reconciling one another's views on homosexuality - as there were about slaves, the welfare state, the role of women, etcetera - and we need to work on them with dialogue which is respectful on both sides.

"But we are not helped by encouraging the destructive influence of 'ex-gay' organisations."

Belvoir Church's minister, Canon Tom Keightley, has stressed that the church itself is not involved with the running or promotion of the event or with the organisation behind it.

© UTV News
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30 Comments
joanna in belfast wrote (1,259 days ago):
i cant believe there are still people in this world that cannot accept other peoples personal decisions, it is an absolute disgrace that these people try to force their opinions on vulnerable confused people struggling with their sexuality. Of course some people would rather try this therapy than accept who they truly are, people with extremely religious families, or are living in an area were it still isn't accepted, the impact on people's mental health with this therapy is bound to be far to great to justify. i think this man needs to find himself a new path in life and stop trying to destroy someone elses
Inge in Amstelveen wrote (1,260 days ago):
-_-' People are still trying to "cure" gays? It was proven YEARS AGO that your sexuality is predetermined while still in the womb! It has nothing to do with overbearing mothers or absent fathers. Did these people skip high school? Or are they just to stupid to understand any biological principle?
Karen in Australia wrote (1,260 days ago):
Some interesting views and as stated we are all entitled to our own views and opinions….. correct, with me so far? How ever if a group believes in something that may in turn actually harm others, then is in not wise, in fact crucial to protest this. This group is purporting to have a cure for 'gayness', they do not in fact (science….science and more science). They are in reality not any better than medicinal snake charmers…. they give people a false sense of themselves then when that fails,(if your gay your gay ok), the implications for that person can be huge, anger, hurt, self humiliation, failing, depression and in the worst case suicide. So yes we can all have our own beliefs, but if they said they could cure cancer and they couldn't…….. would you be happy?
LORNA in limavady wrote (1,260 days ago):
How times have changed ! once we had Free Presbyterians protesting about some film or other and they were criticzed by many because they were putting their opinions forcefully on others. Now we have gays demanding this centre should be closed because they believe it somehow infringes on their rights like noone dare dispute their lifestyle. Maybe I can. I do not hate Gays but I will ask why they have to be "in you face" and so proud to be gay. Is anyone not proud to be straight because does not come into how I live my life.
Will greenham in Holywood wrote (1,260 days ago):
There is no such thing as a cure its all about insecurity which people have. They can talk to anyone and they will make their own minds up. I am a gay man and i know no amount of talking or medicene would turn me into a straight man. Its alot of nonsense and whoever believes in this much is a homophobe and should be punish for their crimes.
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