Anger as gay ‘cure’ activist addresses students at Harvard

An ‘ex-gay’ advocate spoke to students at Harvard University last week – despite angry protests.

Evangelical campaigner Jackie Hill Perry claims to have been “saved from a lifestyle of homosexual sin”, and regularly appears in Christian media to promote the discredited idea that people can be ‘converted’ from gay to straight through Christianity.

She spoke to students at Harvard last week via an event held by the ‘Harvard College Faith & Action’ society, an evangelical group on campus.

The event organisers had claimed ahead of the event that she was there to “foster respectful dialogue about sexual ethics for Christians” and not to “promote homophobia or conversion therapy”.

However, the Harvard Crimson reports that she used the platform to call gay Christians “broken” and urged them to deny themselves relationships to please God.

Jackie Hill Perry

She said: “There is not such a thing as being born gay, but there is such a thing as being born broken, broken by sin.

“The model for how we are to deny ourselves, whether that applies to our greed, to our lust, self-denial is not optional for the Christian.”

The event, which took place in the university-owned Emerson Hall, faced a small gathering of protesters including both students and professors from the university.

Divinity professor Ahmed Ragab told the outlet: “The history of this speaker and the things that she keeps promoting are things that basically alienate and threaten the existence of queer students on campus.

“I think it is a problem to have a speaker that promotes this kind of discourse.”

Gay cure therapy has been condemned by every reputable medical and therapeutic body.

The discredited practice that has been linked to depression, self-harm and suicide.

However, it remains prevalent on the extreme fringes of evangelical Christianity, and is also frequently advocated inside denominations including the Mormon and Catholic churches.

A petition had called for the event to be cancelled.

Jackie Hill Perry

It said: “Ms. Hill-Perry, a self-proclaimed Christian activist, has made a career founded on homophobia and ignorance, under the guise of a journey to faith

“We are deeply concerned that HCFA is giving Ms. Hill-Perry a very public platform to speak about her harmful and hateful beliefs.”.

Speaking in 2015, Hill-Perry said: “The transgender, the lesbian, the homosexuality — all of this makes sense when God is not involved.

“Yeah, somebody should be able to do what they want to do. Somebody should be able to love who they want to love. Somebody should be able to change their body to match what they feel they are on the inside.

“But, when God is involved, now we know, ‘Oh, there’s a creator, and we are creation.’ And if there’s a creator, then that means he has intentions for his creation, and his intentions are for us to glorify him in the way that he has prescribed.

“When God is involved, now it’s a bigger deal. He created your body. He sovereignly allows you to be male or female, so for you to go against him is an eternal issue. He created your body, so you don’t have the right to say, ‘I can do with it whatever I want.’ That’s the most prideful thing you can do because it’s an attack on the wisdom of God.”

She said: “If I know the truth of God and his word and his intention for sexuality — for femaleness and maleness — then I have the right, and, out of love, I must speak about it. If eternity is at stake, I would be so unloving to never talk about that.”

Gay cure therapy is illegal in nine US states and counting, as well as Switzerland, Malta, Taiwan, two Canadian provinces, and the Australian state of Victoria.

The UK government recently said it would consider banning it.

British health minister Jackie Doyle-Price said: “The Department does not hold an estimate of the number of people that have undertaken gay conversion therapy.

“In 2017, the Government Equalities Office carried out a survey of the experience of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the United Kingdom, which included several questions about gay conversion therapy.

“Whilst not a statistically representative sample, the survey received over 100,000 responses and will help us improve our understanding of the numbers of people who have undergone, or have been offered, gay conversion therapy.

“This is an issue the Government is keeping under review and we are constantly working towards improving the evidence base.”

She added: “The Government rejects utterly the notion that sexuality is something to be cured, and condemns gay conversion therapy.

“The evidence base is clear that conversion therapy is not only ineffective, but is potentially harmful to participants.

“That is why officials have worked with the main registration and accreditation bodies for psychotherapy and counselling practitioners, including the UK Council for Psychotherapy, to develop a Memorandum of Understanding to help put a stop to this bogus treatment.”