A recent TV documentary highlighted the abuse dished out in the name of religion. Attitudes must change, says Stephen Sorby
It’s often said, quite wrongly, that being gay is “just a phase”. Many people think it’s something you “grow out of” or indeed “can be cured”.
The recent programme on Channel 4 with Dr Christian Jesson – Undercover Doctor: ‘Cure Me, I’m Gay’, initiated a significant response and debate both on and off line.
Many people, from the heterosexual to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) communities were horrified by what was revealed before them on their TV screens as Dr Christian sought out a “gay cure”.
Hardcore “faith communities and ministers”, internationally and here in the UK, were offering radical and what could be seen as abusive treatments/ cures to be cast out of demons and evil thoughts and actions.
It was a disturbing watch. Is it really acceptable for such abuse to be permitted and advocated in any society, especially by faith communities, often very radical evangelicals?
Quite simply, no! There is no “cure” for sexuality – why would there need to be? We are who we are.
Equality should prevail and those who cannot accept that, namely many of the faith communities, must stop these inhumane actions to “rid and cure”.
The programme content brought criticism from leading organisations including Stonewall UK, and indeed the UK’s leading counselling professions issued a joint consensus regarding such reparative “therapies”.
The “church” (indeed all faith communities) has a real opportunity to embrace, to reach out and welcome. To offer a safe haven, support and acceptance without judgement or prejudice.
Sadly, in many cases, it’s quite the opposite.
Dr Christian highlighted some real food for thought as well as practical action. We must seek to “stand up and stand out” – beat the bullying and unrealistic actions of many.
Where there is love, there is hope. And where there is hope, there is faith.
Let us seek to embrace and change attitudes, challenge and open our arms to those seeking solace – not beating them into submission for simply being themselves.
- Rev Dr Stephen Sorby is an inclusive minister, interfaith advisor and ambassador for LGBTI rights. He is also Railway & British Transport Police Chaplain based at York Railway Station
- Follow him on Twitter here