Comment: My afternoon at a ‘gay cure’ conference in London

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Journalist and broadcaster Cristo Foufas writes for PinkNews on attending a “gay cure” lecture in London.

Earlier this week, as reported on PinkNews, the ‘Transformation Potential’ conference took place in London.

Organised by The Core Issues Trust, and Christian Concern, it was basically a day of events and lectures on ‘unwanted’ same-sex attraction, and more controversially, ‘gay cure’ therapy – something both organisations endorse, even though such practices have been condemned by NHS England.

Lectures over the course of the day included; ‘Unwanted Same-Sex Attractions: Is Change Possible’, ‘What is the relationship between faith and professional counselling when supporting those with unwanted same-sex attractions?’ and ‘Raising awareness; resisting indoctrination; supporting campaigns to secure freedoms and rights for children, counselees, therapists and pastors.’

I attended the ‘Raising Awareness’ lecture, mainly because the UKIP PPC Alan Craig was meant to be one of the panellists.

However, when the organisers twigged his attendance could create unwanted headlines, he was promptly ditched from the running order – so instead attendees were left with Andrea Williams CEO of Christian Concern and the Christian Legal Centre, Professor Robert Gagnon Associate Professor of New Testament, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and Dr Lisa Nolland, Anglican Mainstream Web Advisor, and Co-Director, Because Children Matter.

Comment: My afternoon at a ‘gay cure’ conference in London
(Photo: Christian Concern/Twitter)

I went along wanting to answer a burning question I have on this issue; Could there be any justification for holding this conference, which isn’t based in bigotry? Could there be a genuine reason to advocate ‘gay cure’ therapy, as well as oppose the equal rights obtained by the gay community, including the right to marry, which are based in genuine concerns, rather than total homophobia?

Within minutes of hearing the first speaker, Andrea Williams take to the stage, I had my answer; These people are homophobes, pure and simple, no better than racists, sexists, and fascists. What makes them worse, is they dress up their bigotry by repeatedly referring to it as an act of love.

Because this was a word used again and again, in the context of the protection of children, from a gay ‘agenda’; Out of ‘love’ for those children they must be protected from gay people and gay “indoctrination”.

Maybe their homophobia comes from this paranoid fear they seem to have of gay people. The speakers, and audience, seem to  genuinely believe this gay agenda’s sole mission is to “indoctrinate” children into the gay way of life.

This is the main crux of how they believe children can then ultimately become gay.

It’s laughable, and tragic they genuinely believe homosexuality is something which can be “caught”, like measles, or the flu – and they believe same-sex relationships being discussed in schools, is a way of the “agenda” trying to recruit or “indoctrinate” to create more gay people through targeting children.

If this weren’t such a tragic viewpoint, it would be utterly hilarious. What they fail to understand, or perhaps refuse to, is the only gay “agenda” in schools centres around young LGBT people not being mercilessly bullied, ending up suffering from mental illness, depression, and in some cases committing suicide.

All it does it advise kids who will be straight, that gay people exist, and advise a child who will identify themselves as having LGBT feelings that’s it’s OK. That’s the agenda. Nothing more, nothing less.

It’s immensely sad homophobia distorts their view into believing wanting to stop kids killing themselves, translates into “indoctrinating” kids to be gay.

If that were the case, I sorely wish someone had tried to “indoctrinate” me as an angst-ridden teenager, struggling with myself, having never even witnessed a mention of homosexuality – in fact, with my history, they would surely wonder how I “caught” gay in the first place.

This gets to the crux of their continued advocacy of ‘gay cure’ therapy; a vile harmful way of attempting to make young people reject their sexuality and ultimately themselves. As they believe homosexuality is “learned” by either example, or trauma, it’s something which can be “cured”.

But no explanation was offered as to how those people “learn” to be gay, who’ve grown up isolated from any mention of homosexuality, with two loving straight parents, who’ve never encountered another gay person in their lives; But that fact didn’t get in the way of their debunking sexuality from being an innate as someone’s race, or eye colour.

I’d have more respect for these bigots if their opinion was actually their own based on experience rather than their extreme interpretation of the Bible, which is probably why there is such a heavy religious element in ‘gay cure’ therapy they endorse so highly. Overall, these people shouldn’t be advising others on therapy, as from what I witnessed, many of them are in dire need of it themselves.


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As with all comment, this does not necessarily reflect the views of PinkNews. 

Cristo Foufas is a journalist and presenter on LBC.

Another word banded around a lot by the speakers was “morality”. They believe they are moral crusaders who are being silenced. There were repeated assertions that as Christians, they are now a victimised minority.

These bigots believe that because public homophobia is no longer seen as acceptable, they themselves are the victims of intolerance. This is of course about as logical as the BNP complaining that the “intolerance” of others stops them being openly racist. They believe their free speech is being compromised.

I can understand their frustration – it must be increasingly difficult to be openly homophobic, as the laws of the land are consigning these backward opinions to history. But still the martyrdom continued.

Photographs were placed on a projector of the “martyrs” who’d dare to speak up against the gay lifestyle, including the therapist Lesley Pilkington who famously was stung by journalist Patrick Strudwick for offering ‘gay cure’ therapy.

Other examples included teachers who didn’t want to mention same-sex relationships, business owners who don’t want to serve gay people, and registrars who didn’t want to perform same sex weddings. All “persecuted” for being homophobic, in the guise of religion.

Barrack Obama was regularly derided, most notably for speaking out against ‘gay cure’ therapy, and for daring to ask the heads of African states to no longer persecute gay people in their countries for fear of losing their aid.

Apparently, for these God-loving Christians, that’s not something which Obama should be doing. I can’t say I was hugely convinced by their repeated assertions they abhor bullying, whilst similarly endorsing the persecution of gay people in Africa.

Pictures from school books which featured same-sex couples were displayed during the speeches, demonstrating how these books attempt to “indoctrinate” children, and advice was offered to parents who want to speak up.

The speakers continued to assert, in the most deluded way, that by advising parents, teachers, and pretty much anyone who holds an unjustified loathing of homosexuality how to stand up their rights, they’re doing it out of “love”.

Love, and saving us all from hell, which again was mentioned a number of times. Apparently here in the UK we’re all heading there; The irony being that if hell does actually exist, it can’t be too far away from the room I found myself in listening to such utter tripe. If that lot make it to heaven, I’l book my ticket the opposite way, thanks.

The lowest moment came during the Q&A session after all three speakers had given their views.

A young man of the age of about 14 or 15 proudly took to the microphone to ask, indignantly, “To what extent do you think liberal Christianity is to blame for the secular society we’re in today, especially as it seems the Church of England is varying and swaying off the traditional Biblical views on these controversial issues?”

To see such anger and bigotry from someone so young was a genuinely shocking moment for me. If those Christians wanted to see indoctrination, it was there, in all its glory in that young boys question.

His hatred was learned, and those people should be ashamed to pass on such views to the next generation. But they weren’t ashamed – they applauded him.

I can’t help but continue to wonder…. why? Why do they care? Why are they quite so upset by it all? How does it possibly affect their lives in any way shape or form, what two consenting adults get up to behind closed doors?

I guess trying to apply logic to this, is like trying to determine why racists are bothered by black people gaining equality and sexists who are angry with women being their boss.

They can call it love. They can declare it’s out of protection for children. They can call it morality. But we all know, as I’m sure they do deep down, that the correct terms here are hate and prejudice.

I was always under the impression Jesus Christ was against such things. My mistake.

As with all comment, this does not necessarily reflect the views of PinkNews. 

Cristo Foufas is a journalist and presenter on LBC.