Religious and secular equality campaigners have criticised advertisements planned by a group who believe in “curing” people of homosexuality.
The Mayor of London has today (12 April) prevented the group, the Core Issues Trust, from promoting the “ex-gay” movement on London's buses.
The adverts read “Not gay! Post-gay, ex-gay and proud. Get over it!”. The Core Issues Trust say that they “support men and women with homosexual issues who voluntarily seek change in sexual preference and expression”. They insist that they respect the rights of gay people who do not seek change.
The adverts have also been backed by Anglican Mainstream, a conservative evangelical group.
But the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, used his power as chair of Transport for London to rule out the advertising campaign.
He said, “It is clearly offensive to suggest that being gay is an illness that someone recovers from and I am not prepared to have that suggestion driven around London on our buses”. His decision has been backed by most other candidates for London mayor, a post that comes up for election on 3 May.
Mike Davidson of the Core Issues Trust accused the mayor of “censorship”.
The Christian thinktank Ekklesia today expressed concern over the adverts and the “therapy” they promote.
"Most therapies aim for ends such as emotional well-being and healthy relationships,” said the thinktank's associate director, Symon Hill. “In contrast, 'conversion therapy' aims to 'cure' a sexual attraction that may be entirely healthy and loving. At its worst, it can break up loving relationships.”
Hill, who is a bisexual Christian, urged the media not to report the controversy in terms of “Christians v. gays”.
“Christians hold varying views on the ethics of same-sex relationships,” he said, “They sincerely interpret the Bible in different ways. In a changing society, some socially conservative Christians have latched onto sexuality as an issue to fight over. It is important to recognise that no group can be considered representative of Christians as a whole.”
Recent years have seen a sharp increase in “conversion therapy” amongst socially conservative Christians in the UK. They have held a number of conferences that have invited speakers from the US.
“Conversion therapy” has been repeatedly criticised by groups including the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM) and Accepting Evangelicals.