Over 100 protestors, including both gay and heterosexual Christians, gathered in London on Saturday to demonstrate peacefully against a conference promoting ‘cures’ for lesbian and gay people.
Protestors carrying placards with Bible verses and religious slogans such: “gay and Christian” and quoting Psalm 51 “God desires truth in our inward being” demonstrated peacefully outside the event organised by Anglican Mainstream and CARE at which speakers advocated methods of ‘treating’ homosexuality.
‘Sex & the City’ was billed as a Judaeo-Christian conference “with a special focus on how religious professionals, friends and relatives can respond biblically and pastorally to those struggling with unwanted SSA (same-sex attraction)". Anglican Mainstream’s website stated: “We are very worried about the continued progress of the gay – and in fact, the LGBT – agenda across the board in the UK. Social, cultural, political and religious sectors are all being targeted and most of them are capitulating.”
The main speaker was Dr Joseph Nicolosi of the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) and author of Shame, Homosexuality and the Practical Work of Reparative Therapy. Anglican Mainstream said he had “a proven track record over almost 30 years in helping people exit the gay world”.
The Church of England said that it did not promote such therapy and the Royal College of Psychiatrists told the BBC that there was “no sound scientific evidence” that the treatment worked. It also suggested "so-called treatments of homosexuality create a setting in which prejudice and discrimination can flourish”.
Last month, the BMC Psychiatry journal published new research funded by the Wellcome Trust, which found that there was no real evidence that treatment for homosexuality was effective and that it could actually be harmful.
Before the event, Nicolosi defended his work, saying he treated people who did not want to be homosexual and telling the BBC that there was “a great deal of evidence showing that these individuals are not harmed and that the therapy does work”.
Also speaking at the conference were Jeffrey Satinover, who believes that sexual orientation is a “fiction” - his book Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth was given to bishops attending the 1998 Lambeth Conference - and Arthur Goldberg, executive secretary of NARTH and founder of Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality, who, according to UK Gay News, mingled with protestors and insisted that “we do not cure”.
In June 2007, the Anglican Mainstream brought Dr Nicolosi to London for a conference entitled ‘Time for Truth: Is Gay Real’.
Organisers had tried to keep the location of the event a secret, but a few days before it took place, the details were published on the social networking site Facebook where people who were lesbian, gay and heterosexual pledged to protest peacefully together.
The event also coincided with the annual conference of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM, which some suggested was intentional in order to keep gay Christian protest to a minimum.
But singing: “2, 4, 6, 8; We preach love, you preach hate” the
protestors gathered outside the Emmanuel Centre in Marsham
“It's a sad, unnecessary reality that there are people who believe the lie that they'd be worth more if they were not gay and they become desperate for a cure. Having lived that way for 17 years, I realise that there's a better way” Peterson Toscano, a gay Christian actor, comedian and survivor of 'therapy' to 'cure' him told Ekklesia.
Mark Russ, 26, carrying a banner reading 'Gay and Christian' said: “I'm here for the vulnerable people inside who need to see that sexuality and Christianity are not exclusive”
“I oppose some of the things that this conference stands for. I don't oppose religion but I oppose people who use their religion to sustain bigotry and intolerance... I'm an Agnostic but I have nothing against Christianity” said Kitty, 21.
Nicolas Chinardet, the protest organiser said he felt the protest had gone “amazingly well” and that he had been “overwhelmed by people's kindness and their support.”
“It was not an anti-Christian protest” he said. “There were Christian and Jewish people amongst us. It's not about religion. It's about what these people are doing in the name of religion.”
Anglican Mainstream declined to allow Ekklesia's reporter to enter the conference although he was an accredited member of the press and showed organisers his press card. He was told that since he had not come at the beginning he “might get the wrong impression.”