The Conservative MP for Salisbury, John Glen, has said that he will not be “bullied into cutting ties” with a charity that sponsored an event which included discussions of “curing” homosexuality.
Christian Action Research and Education (CARE), had co-sponsored the 2009 “Judaeo-Christian” event ‘Sex and the City: Redeeming sex today’ which included talks on “mentoring the sexually broken” from speakers including Jospeh Nicolosi, president of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality and author of books on how to clinically “treat” homosexuality.
Anglican Mainstream, the event’s other sponsor, recently booked advertising space on London’s buses to display the message “Not gay! Ex-gay, post-gay and proud. Get over it!”. After a report by PinkNews.co.uk and the mainstream media, the ‘gay cure’ sponsors’ adverts were banned before reaching London’s streets.
Phillip Dawson, a campaigner, had put together a petition calling on 17 MPs who had recently accepted CARE interns to distance themselves from the scheme.
Since Mr Dawson launched his campaign, about 9,000 people have signed the petition, and five MPs have cut ties with the charity, including David Lammy, Liz Kendall, Catherine McKinnell and Sharon Hodgson.
Responding to Mr Glen’s comments, Mr Dawson said: “At the heart of the campaign, is the simple point that we think that MPs are there to wipe out discrimination and not to encourage it.”
Adding that he would like to see the Wiltshire MP “sever links” with CARE, he said: “I’d like him to explain to his constituents, who I’m sure, like me, will be upset and appalled by the fact that he’s involved with a charity that supports the notion of a gay cure, and sees people in same sex relationships as sinners.”
Mr Glen, who was a CARE intern himself, said that the views discussed at the conference were those of one specific lecturer and were not advocated by the charity. He said: “CARE did not use this term ‘gay cure’, they wouldn’t use that term nor would my intern nor would I, so we’re not going to be bullied into giving up links with an organisation that does a great deal of good on the basis of a smear campaign.
“I’m not going to back down on something I think is the right thing to do,” he added.
In a statement reported by the BBC, CARE said that their “leadership programme is a well respected training initiative for Christian graduates, they seek placements in the best interests of interns without discrimination and irrespective of the policy or theological views of Parliamentarians”.
Yet, the internship programme now “requires and expects” Westminster interns, at least one of whom, Stephen Crabb, has gone on to become an MP, to subscribe to CARE’s Statement of Faith, which includes belief in the “entire trustworthiness and supreme authority” of the Bible.
Following indications the material benefit of CARE interns may have only been given to straight MPs in the past, Liberal Democrat President Tim Farron told PinkNews.co.uk in February “any discrimination” in the scheme would be “unacceptable”.
CARE’s website urges readers to sign the Coalition for Marriage, opposing full equality for gay couples citing a risk of polygamous marriages and “other forms of relationship”, restrictions on freedom of speech and the belief that “clergy may be called upon, against their beliefs and conscience, to perform ceremonies” if gays are given equal rights to marry.
The four actions it suggests readers take to oppose marriage equality are: signing the Coalition for Marriage, writing to their MP, visiting their MP in person, and prayer.