Alleged UK ‘gay cure’ charity denies supporting reparative therapy
A UK charity that claims to help people manage “same-sex attraction” by abstaining from sex has insisted that it is not supporting “gay cure” therapy.
The UK’s Charity Commission controversially granted charity status to Christian group Living Out earlier this year, affirming that its work is for the “public benefit” – despite previously voicing concern about its practises with respect to sexual orientation.
Living Out claims it encourages discussion of homosexuality “from a Biblical perspective”, teaching gay Christians that they must abstain from sex for life to avoid being seen as “sinful”.
The charity insists it merely promotes abstinence, but their website affirms support for those who “seek…changes in the strength or direction of their same-sex attractions.”
Living Out also refers parents with gay children to the True Freedom Trust – a Christian group which openly states it supports “individuals who experience same-sex attraction but who choose not to embrace a gay identity.”
However, in a new article Living Out denies that it supports ‘curing’ gay people – despite encouraging them to abstain from sex for life.
A statement said: “We don’t support ‘gay cure’ or ‘conversion therapy’.
“Some gay or same-sex attracted people will find professional, responsible counselling or psychotherapy helpful for a whole host of other reasons – just as many straight people do. But this isn’t because they’re gay or same-sex attracted!
“Homosexuality is not an illness. But using the language of ‘cure’ makes it sound like it is, which could be very damaging to vulnerable people (such as a young person coming to terms with their sexuality), making them feel ashamed of who they are at a very deep and fundamental level, and perhaps in some cases even contributing to suicidal feelings.
“We are not aware of any organisations in the UK which do support the idea of a ‘gay cure’.
“Our belief is that all of us have fallen sexual desires (whether heterosexual or homosexual), and that what we need isn’t more heterosexuality or less homosexuality, but the holiness found in Jesus Christ.”
The charity outlines a number of other reasons, denying that “being gay is somehow more problematic than being straight” and “the idea that anyone can be rid of sexual temptation is overoptimistic”.
But despite disavowing gay cure therapy, they maintained that “against popular misconceptions, the most substantial study so far of attempts to change sexual orientation found no evidence that such attempts were harmful”, adding that “the goal of therapy should be wholeness in general”.
It added: “We believe that attempting to change someone’s sexual orientation sends a number of potentially damaging messages.
“It sets people up for guilt and failure, and can be a distraction from more worthwhile goals. Of course, people of all sexual orientations may benefit from counselling and psychotherapy for all sorts of other reasons.
“Lots of us carry emotional baggage. Gay or same-sex attracted people are no different in this respect. But our sexual orientation is not a sign that we need counselling more than anyone else.
“We therefore believe that counselling or psychotherapy will be helpful when it aims at helping people towards self-acceptance and good psychological and emotional health in general, and not on changing someone’s sexual orientation.
“We hope that this makes it clear that Living Out does not support the idea of counselling or psychotherapy which has that goal.”
Charity status entitles organisations to claim tax relief and a range of financial benefits. The status also allows groups to potentially claim ‘gift aid’ – in which the government uses taxpayer funds to top up private donations.
A statement from the charity watchdog says: “The Charity Commission was asked to review its decision not to enter Living Out onto the register of charities. On the basis of further evidence, submissions, and revised objects adopted by Living Out, the commission was satisfied that the purpose of Living Out was for the public benefit.
“The commission concluded that Living Out is concerned with promoting the wider Christian principles of unconditional love, compassion, acceptance and understanding, and a welcoming place in the Christian Church for same-sex attracted individuals who wish to stay true to their Christian faith.”