David Cameron attacked by Christians for pledge to end gay ‘cure’ therapies
David Cameron has been condemned by a Christian group for a pledge to end “profoundly wrong” gay ‘cure’ therapies.
The Prime Minister has pledged to PinkNews that a future Conservative government would act to end so called “gay cure” therapy, which attempts to change the sexuality of a person, labelling the practice as “dangerous” and “profoundly wrong”.
Gay cure advocacy groups have claimed that such “irresponsible” moves would lead to the persecution of Christians, Jews and Muslims in the UK.
The commitment was made as part of a question and answer session with PinkNews readers, and was welcomed by Dr Christian Jessen who undertook a number of ‘gay cures’ for a Channel 4 documentary.
Responding to a question asking if “it’s now time to bring forward legislation to ban reparative therapy for gay people”, the Prime Minister told PinkNews: “As you would expect, I strongly disagree with anyone who holds those views.
“As a Government we’ve made it clear that we believe treating lesbian, gay and bisexual people as having an illness to be ‘cured’ is profoundly wrong. We are creating a country where people can be free to be themselves, and no-one should be pressured into being someone that they’re not.”
Mr Cameron added: “Through the Department for Health, we secured the signing of a memorandum of understanding earlier this year between NHS England and a range of therapeutic organisations to protect people from the dangers of reparative therapy.
“That agreement makes clear such practices are unethical and potentially harmful, and are neither endorsed nor supported. I think that’s a pretty firm approach to stop the use of these practices, but if we need to go further to protect people from harm, we will.”
Dr Christian Jessen, who researched the subject, and appeared in Channel 4’s ‘Cure Me, I’m Gay’, welcomed the commitment from the Prime Minister.
He told PinkNews: “This is something I’ve researched in depth – its a very damaging practice based not on science but on pure prejudice, and which usually comes from fundamentalist religious teaching. I’m delighted to hear that the mental health of gay men and women will hopefully soon be protected under the law.
“I’m also pleased that this is evidence based policy rather than knee jerk reaction policy – as the evidence is clear on these practices.”
Tory peer Lord Black of Brentwood, who is intending to table a bill to ban the therapies told PinkNews: “I’m delighted that David Cameron also agrees with the gay community that ‘reparative therapies’ are profoundly wrong.
“It’s great to hear the Prime Minister- who has been such a strong supporter of LGBT rights throughout this Parliament- commit the Conservative Party to such a tough stance.
“I want to work with parties of all colours in the next parliament to introduce legislation to bring an end to these cruel practices.”
The announcement was not welcomed by all, however – the Core Issues Trust, which advocates for the use of gay ‘cure’ therapy, released a statement, accusing the Government of attacking “Judeo Christian values” through the pledge.
The statement read: “David Cameron’s remarks to PinkNews betray a political agenda that now denies the legitimate wishes of ordinary people who simply want to exercise their freedom and right as autonomous individuals to live as they choose either in active gay relationships, abstinence, celibacy or in marriage to opposite sex partners.
It continued that the Government “trivialises the range and complexity of human experience”, and said the idea to ban the practice “is based on the false notion that children are born gay”.
Saying the Prime Minister’s remarks were “irresponsible”, Core Issues Trust also said they would lead to the “persecution of orthodox Christians, Jews and others” in the UK.
The practice of gay cure, or gay conversion therapy, has been widely condemned by health bodies around the globe.
Staff of the NHS in England were in January instructed not to facilitate access to the practice.
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Despite the NHS not offering gay conversion therapy directly, some patients seeking to change their sexuality had been connected by NHS staff to organisations which do provide it.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder back in 1990, and gay “cure” therapies have been widely condemned by health bodies across the world.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg recently spoke out about gay cure therapy, telling PinkNews in a Q&A that it was “dangerous nonsense”.
Some states in the US have legislated to ban the practice for minors. It is currently banned in California, New Jersey and Washington D.C.