A religious organisation whose ‘gay cure’ therapy is to be removed from the basic health insurance package in the Netherlands has said it is looking to appeal the decision.

Health Minister Edith Schippers had said gays who suffer psychologically because of their sexual orientation should be offered pastoral guidance rather than medical treatment, since homosexuality is not a psychiatric disorder.

She had written: “The conlusion of the Health Care Inspectorate is as follows. Different can only provide psychiatric treatment in cases where a psychiatric illness has been diagnosed.

“If clients (are not able to and) do not want to give space to their homosexual feelings because of their orthodox Christian beliefs and suffer psychologically because of this, then there is no question of a psychiatric illness. The support for this suffering should then, for example, have to take a pastoral route.

“The origins of this suffering in these cases are not psychiatric in nature but lie in their religion. There’s therefore no question of a psychiatric diagnosis, no questions of psychiatric treatment, and therefore there is no question of insured care.”

The group in question, ‘Different’ would still be entitled to provide pastoral counselling for anyone who is unhappy with their sexual orientation, but this would need to be paid for by the individual.

Different forms part of Tot Heil des Volks, who reacted with surprise to the news and said they would examine whether a case could be taken to the Commissie Gelijke Behandeling, the Equal Treatment Commission.

Tot Heil des Volks Managing Director Henk van Rhee said: “We find the reasoning of the Minister very strange. We are looking into whether we can take this decision to the Equal Treatment Commission. It seems clear that Christians are being excluded from mental health services because they are Christians. A psychiatrist at Different diagnoses a patient just like everywhere else. That may be a relationship problem or concern an identity crisis.

“Christians will now not get their treatment paid for by their health insurance for a problem which might be related to their homosexual orientation because of the Minister’s decision.

“You will simply be excluded, discriminated against. Meanwhile, you pay your health insurance. Increasingly it seems that the minority receives fewer rights because the majority has a different opinion. “