A conference advocating techniques to help ‘cure’ people of homosexuality is to be held in London next weekend.
Held by the Anglican Mainstream Organisation, the event will have “a special focus on how religious professionals and friends/relatives can respond biblically and pastorally to those struggling with unwanted SSA (same-sex attraction)”.
According to the organisation, the conference is “ideal for clergy, rabbis, psychologists, therapists, educators and others concerned about the plethora of sexual issues confronting us in today’s society, including mentoring the sexually broken, the sexualisation of culture, pornography, the Bible and sex, and marriage, the family and sex”.
One guest speaker will be Joseph Nicolosi PhD, of the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (Narth).
Nicolosi is an advocate and practictioner of reparative therapy, which claims to help people overcome or reduce unwanted homosexual feelings.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, the therapy works on the assumption that homosexuality is a disease or mental illness that must be treated.
Also appearing at the conference is Jeffrey Satinover, who said in 2005 that sexual orientation is “a fiction”. He added that it is ludicrous to allow civil rights for a group of people whose condition does not exist.
A spokesperson for the Lesbian and Gay Foundation said: “It is worrying to hear of this conference aimed at promoting such a deplorable and dangerous approach to therapy, and giving a platform to homophobic ideas.
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“We encourage people to access Gay Affirmative Therapy, rather than internalise the homophobic beliefs of others.”
The conference is to be held next Friday and Saturday in central London, although the organisers have not yet confirmed a venue.
However, UK Gay News reports it will be held at the Emmanuel Centre in Marsham Street.
The news comes after research published in the BMC Psychiatry journal showed that a sixth of registered British therapist and psychiatrists have attempted to “cure” patients of homosexuality.
The study led by Michael King of University College London, surveyed 1,400 medical professionals but finds that there is very little evidence that therapy can really help change whether a person is lesbian, gay or bisexual.
“There is very little evidence to show that attempting to treat a person’s homosexual feelings is effective and in fact it can actually be harmful,” said Professor King .
“So it is surprising that a significant minority of practitioners still offer this help to their clients.”
Seventeen per cent of the professionals questioned had attempted to help patients “reduce” gay or lesbian feelings, utilising techniques such as aversion therapy, more commonly used in the 1970s and 1980s.
The therapy involved associating gay imagery with electronic shocks. But just four per cent of therapists and psychiatrists said that they would try to use such treatments if asked by a patient today.