A Catholic Church near Madrid is being investigated after a Spanish journalist alleged that they were offering illegal conversion therapy to LGBT+ people in an undercover investigation.
Deputy head of Madrid’s regional administration, Pedro Rollán, said the bishopric of Alcalá de Henares would face penalties if they were found to have offered conversion therapy, according to BBC News.
Madrid approved a ban on conversion therapy for LGBT+ people in 2016. The ban prohibits medical, psychiatric, psychological and religious groups from trying to change a person’s sexual orientation.
A journalist posed as a young man seeking ‘treatment’ for his sexuality
The alleged conversion therapy practices of Alcalá de Henares were uncovered by a journalist writing for Spanish publication El Diario.
The journalist posed as a young gay man seeking “treatment” for his sexual orientation, and attended a session at the Family Counselling Centre Regina Familiae on 21 March.
He claimed that he was sent documents before the session which claimed that homosexuality is caused by childhood trauma such as sexual abuse.
The “therapist”—who is allegedly unregistered—also claimed to be a doctor of biology. The journalist has claimed that he was told by this unregistered therapist that the process would be “slow” and that he must stop watching pornography and stop masturbating.
“Far too many children and young people grow up thinking that if they or someone they knew turned out to be LGBT it would be bad luck or a disappointment.”
– Tiernan Brady, Equal Future 2018 campaign director
In documents sent ahead of their session, the group claimed that being gay is a “false identity” and that movements for LGBT+ equality wrongly tell young people that they should be accepted.
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However, the bishop of Alcalá de Henares has responded to the article and branded it “fake news”. The statement quotes remarks from Pope Francis concerning misinformation in the media.
BBC News reports that the leftist Podemos party have pleaded for an investigation of the diocese for the alleged conversion therapy.
Under the region’s laws—which bans conversion therapy—organisations seeking to change a person’s sexual orientation could be fined up to €45,000.
Catholic Church continues to be anti-LGBT, despite changing attitudes among its members
The Catholic Church continues to be anti-LGBT+ in its teachings, despite the fact that a survey released last October showed that the majority of Catholics want a more positive approach to the LGBT+ community.
YouGov polled 9,606 people in the world’s largest Catholic countries—Brazil, Columbia, France, Italy, Mexico, Philippines, Spain, and the US—to find out more about attitudes towards LGBT+ people in the community.
63 percent of practicing Catholics agreed with the statement “the Catholic Church should reconsider its current teachings on LGBT issues to help support the mental health and well-being of children and young people.”
Tiernan Brady, Equal Future 2018 campaign director, welcomed the results and said they indicated changing attitudes among Catholics.
“This is not a call for change from outside the Church—it is from its own people,” he said.
“The truth is that far too many children and young people grow up thinking that if they or someone they knew turned out to be LGBT it would be bad luck or a disappointment. Most of the damage that comes from learning such attitudes happens to children and young people long before anyone knows if they are LGBT or not.”