‘Ex-gay’ claims UK Christian group offer ‘gay cures’ – but LGBT charity chief brands them ‘dangerous’

An ‘ex-gay’ has revealed to MM that his UK Christian organisation offer ‘gay cures’ as he believes no one is born homosexual – yet an LGBT charity leader has hit back as the claims as ‘dangerous’.

‘Gay cures’ may sound like something from another century.

Yet a controversial Channel 4 documentary Undercover Doctor: Cure Me, I’m Gay saw Dr Christian Jessen scouring the UK and US for ‘gay cure’ therapies last week.

And now a British Christian organisation called Core Issues Trust claim to offer therapeutic support for homosexuals who might wish to change their behaviours or feelings.

Dr Mike Davidson (PhD), director of Core Issues Trust, identifies himself as an ex-gay man and believes that people who wish to seek therapy for same-sex attractions should be able to do so.

“I think it is important to not refer to these therapies as ‘gay cures’ or ‘conversions’ because homosexuality is not a disease, but people who may want to move away from homosexuality should be supported,” he said.

 “I do not believe that one can be born homosexual and I don’t believe there is any scientific evidence that conclusively says it is all about genetics.

“It involves a complex interaction between nature and nurture.”

Grahame Robertson, Resource & Information Manager at The Lesbian and Gay Foundation, Manchester, says that such therapies are undoubtedly ineffective and harmful.

“We need to move beyond these out-dated, dangerous and ultimately ineffective practices,” Mr Robertson said.

“You can no more choose your sexuality than you can choose the colour of your eyes.”

Conversion therapy refers to a range of treatments that aim to change sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual.

The Channel 4 documentary saw Dr Christian, the much-loved, homosexual ‘Embarrassing Bodies’ GP, endure gay-conversion therapies ranging from the bizarre to the downright painful.

You might be forgiven for thinking that with the first British gay marriages due to take place very soon, the time of homosexuality being treated as a ‘disease’ were long behind us.  

However, there are still many who claim they can ‘cure’ people of their attraction to the same sex.

Andy Braunston, The Minister of The Metropolitan Community Church, was brought up as a Roman Catholic, and experienced an ‘awful feeling of guilt’ when he first acknowledged his homosexuality.

“I remember praying for years that God would take this horrible thing away from me,” he said.

Many take it a step further.

“Though homosexuality in itself isn’t the issue, the Bible makes it clear that the only place for sexual expression is between a man and a woman in lifelong marriage,” said Andrea Williams, Chief Executive of Christian Concerns.

“Any sexual expression outside of this structure is a sin.”

Whether some argue homosexuality is a choice, a sin, a disorder, or a genetic case, gay cure or gay conversion therapies are a controversial topic and many argue that not only are they ineffective, they are also harmful.

One particularly disturbing therapy endured by Dr Christian on Channel 4 involved the repetitive consumption of vomit-inducing medication, consumed in a room filled with male images and an audio recording that disgraced homosexual behaviours.

Part of the recording could be heard over Dr Christian’s violent retching and sobbing: “No one can love you this way.”

The therapy was meant to rely on association, a means of correlating sickness and shame with the homosexual nature of the images in the room – similar to techniques used in A Clockwork Orange to ‘cure’ Alex of his violent nature.

Another therapy involved colouring in a picture of your own brain with crayons while a supposed doctor analysed the results.

Ironically the doctor in this particular documentary was colour blind.

Many states in the US, such as New Jersey and California, are now looking
to ban gay conversion therapies and The American Psychiatric Association has condemned them on the basis that they assume homosexuality to be a mental disorder that ought to be treated.

However, there are some that believe gay therapies are effective and should be available to those who seek them.

In the Channel 4 documentary, Dr Christian was advised to try wearing more ‘straight’ clothes, invest in gay-conversion self-help books, associate himself with straight males and disassociate himself from all homosexual behaviours.

“One can attempt to manage the homosexual behaviours or reduce the behaviours in order to lessen same-sex feelings, or in some cases one can eliminate the feelings completely,” Dr Davidson said.

“From my own perspective, as I dealt with my own behaviours my feelings lessened, which was a significant change for me.

“Undergoing these approaches may not mean that the individual never again has another homosexual thought but what they do achieve in diverting away from certain behaviours can make them happy for the rest of their lives.”

Dr Davidson went on to explain that some individuals avoid mainstream help because mental health therapists often dismiss the search for therapy as a response to social homophobia.

“This is a simplification of the issue,” he said.

“The important thing is to regulate, make sure therapists are well-trained, make sure there is sufficient supervision – but don’t ban these methods on ideological grounds based on no real scientific research.”

The last scene of the Channel 4 documentary saw Dr Christian undergoing an experiment, post-therapy, to determine whether his sexual orientation had been altered in any way.

According to the results, his sexual orientation remained unchanged.

“There may be deep-rooted psychological and societal reasons why somebody chooses to access ‘conversion therapy’, but being lesbian, gay or bisexual is not something that can be ‘cured’,” Mr Robertson of the Lesbian and Gay Foundation concluded.

“Lesbian, gay and bisexual people can and do lead happy, fulfilling and rewarding lives, just like everybody else.”

Image courtesy of Channel 4 via YouTube, with thanks.

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