A Norwegian bishop has been condemned by public figures after suggesting gay people change their sexual orientation by visiting a psychiatrist.

Norway’s top actress slammed Oslo Bishop Ole Christian Kvarme, and was joined in opposition to his remarks by senior politicians and government officials.

Stage star Wenche Foss told the Dagsavisen newspaper, “I get so angry that I get a fever when I read such remarks as that, I discussed homosexuality with Kvarme many years ago, when he was still a local pastor, I though he had understood. But he clearly hasn’t learned a thing.”

One government minister, Tron Giske, suggested his remarks may lead some gays to commit suicide.

The outburst was called “extremely unfortunate and dumb” by gay City Council leader Erling Lae

A psychiatric doctor, Morten Selle, told the Aftenposten paper that trying to treat homosexuality is “indefensible and unethical.”

Bishop Kvarme defended his remarks on television and insisted he wasn’t suggesting counselling for gay people, “What I said before wasn’t meant as advice, I don’t view homosexuality as an illness.”

He stood by beliefs that some gays want or need help to clarify their sexuality, and must be respected.