Two Church of England bishops have backed an inquiry into gay conversion therapy which will take evidence from people who have undergone the harmful practice.
Some religious groups continue to practice conversion therapy on LGBT+ people, despite evidence suggesting it is harmful.
The Sunday Times reports that the Church of England said they must welcome everyone, and that nobody is a “problem” or an “issue.”
The Ozanne Foundation, a charity that promotes equality and religious diversity, is preparing to launch a survey in the UK of people who have engaged with conversion therapy with the support of two senior bishops and leaders of other faith groups.
The Bishop of Liverpool, Paul Bayes, said he was concerned that conversion therapy is still being practiced by some religious groups, while the Bishop of Manchester David Walker has also backed the inquiry.
The Sunday Times spoke to a group that practices so-called conversion therapy. Called Core Issues Trust, the organisation said they have more clients than they can cope with.
They said that they reject the label “conversion therapy,” and insisted that homosexuality “is not going to benefit society in the long run.”
Church of England’s stance on conversion therapy
The Church of England has previously been vocal about its opposition to the harmful practice.
In July 2017, the Church of England voted overwhelmingly in favour of a motion calling for a ban on the practice.
They also reiterated at that meeting that conversion therapy should not be permitted within the Church of England.
“Given that many practitioners are non-medically trained religious leaders, it is imperative that the Church of England is unequivocal in its condemnation of such harmful practices,” they said in a statement in July 2017.
The UK government announced in July 2018 that they intend to ban the practice.
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A spokesperson for the Church of England responded by saying that they warmly welcomed the government’s commitment to eradicating conversion therapy.
They continued: “The practice is unethical, potentially harmful and has no place in the modern world.”
‘Unethical and harmful’
Just last month, an ITV News investigation looked at conversion therapy in UK churches, with one pastor comparing societal acceptance of LGBT+ people to Nazi propaganda.
The broadcaster also found that several pastors at the Pentecostal Winners’ Chapel in Dartford—one of the largest churches in Britain—claimed they could stop people from being gay.
In one video, two pastors from the church can be seen spinning an undercover ITV reporter around on the floor, telling him: “Let there be a release! Let the fire come upon him!”
The video of the praying, which lasts for around 20 minutes, was filmed barely an hour after the reporter told pastor Gbenga Samuel that he was gay.
Conversion therapy is thought to be an extremely harmful practice for LGBT+ people, with UK charity Stonewall branding it “unethical and harmful.”
“In the UK, all major counselling and psychotherapy bodies, as well as the NHS, have concluded that conversion therapy is dangerous and have condemned it by signing a Memorandum of Understanding.
“We are working to make sure that this covers gender identity too,” Stonewall’s website says.