Unwanted same sex attraction, Reparative or Conversion Therapy and the Association of Christian Counsellors

The Association of Christian Counsellors has issued a statement announcing that they:

do not endorse Reparative or Conversion Therapy or any model that implies a predetermined direction of outcome of counselling at the outset. We recognize that such models have the potential to impose situational demands on the client at a time of vulnerability with the potential to create harm and therefore view them as incompatible within the ethos of counselling.

Members who are considering using this model of therapy should neither commence nor continue to use it and any advertising or promotional material should be replaced immediately, or at least removed from current use.

We recognize that this is not the view of some of our members but in the interests of public safety we have decided to make clear what is expected by those who choose to be part of ACC.”

Members should not allow any personal views they may hold about lifestyle, gender, age, disability, race, sexual orientation, beliefs or culture to prejudice their professional relationships with clients. The Equality Act 2010 requires that discrimination does not occur on the following protected grounds: age, disability, gender, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief and sexual orientation.

In addition the essential characteristics of a therapeutic relationship are genuineness, congruence, unconditional positive regard, empathy and understanding (being non-judgmental, warm and empathic) thus providing a safe environment for the client to explore their feelings and concerns. It is clear that in protecting client autonomy it is important for counsellors not to impose themselves or their beliefs on anyone who comes for therapy, either by implying that a particular outcome is possible or expecting the client to come into alignment with their own belief system or understanding on certain approaches to life.

Yesterday in the House of Commons in the course of a debate, Geraint Davies, MP for Swansea West, commented on gay to straight conversion therapy and the so-called gay cures organisations promoting this therapy. It was called abhorrent. What lesbian and gay people sometimes need is support in coming to terms with their sexuality.

Geraint Davis is speaking tomorrow at the beginning of a conference entitled ‘Setting Love in Order’ organised by Core Issues Trust at the Emmanuel Conference Centre in Westminster. I’m attending the conference to hear what the other speakers have to say: Mike Davidson of Core Issues Trust, Revd Andrew Symes of Anglican Mainstream, Andrew Comiskey of Desert Streams/Living Waters Ministry, Mrs Andrea Minichiello Williams of Christian Legal Centre and Christian Concern, Alida Niewenhuis of Kompassion (Netherlands), Dermot O’Callaghan from the Church of Ireland and Dr Peter May, a retired GP.

Reparative or conversion therapy is offered by therapists to those who have ‘unwanted same sex attraction’ who ‘don’t want to be gay anymore’. Those who practice this kind of therapy do so because they believe that gay people can become straight, or that they can cure people of their homosexuality (which isn’t a real identity but a choice, a deliberate, sinful pattern of behaviour). Their practice is based on deeply flawed theories of childhood development, ignorant theology, Biblical literalism and unexamined anti-gay prejudice and homophobia.

Reparative therapy is sought by lesbian and gay Christians who believe in and have internalised the teaching of the church that homosexuality is evil and sinful, an abomination.

Unwanted same-sex attraction is unwanted because some Christians teach lesbian and gay people to reject their own identity and the feelings of attraction and desire they experience for people of the same sex.

The result of this so-called ‘traditional, orthodox’ Christian sexual ethic is the self-hatred and denial of self experienced by some lesbian and gay Christians, the depression and thoughts of suicide that result. In a wider context, this ‘traditional, orthodox’ anti-gay sexual ethic results in anti-gay bills in Uganda and Nigeria, advocated by Christians; it results in Mrs Andrea Minichiello Williams, a member of General Synod, supporting the further criminalisation of LGB&T Jamaicans; it results in the total commitment given by Chris Sugden, another member of General Synod, to the homophobic anti-gay teaching of GAFCON and the FOCA parishes in England.

Reparative therapy is not therapeutic. It is based on conservative theological and biblical teaching which condemns homosexuality.

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