Over 100 people were outside the Emmanuel Centre in London this afternoon to protest the “cure gays” conference organised by Anglican Mainstream and CARE and held in the building.
The therapy being promoted at the conference was of concern to the Royal College of Psychiatrists who said in a statement yesterday: “So-called treatments of homosexuality as recommended by NARTH create a setting in which prejudice and discrimination can flourish.”
Among the many who were angry that ‘gay cure’ therapy was still been practiced in the UK by a small minority of therapists was singer Jimmy Sommerville.
“It’s just as bad as racism,” he insisted as he stood among the demonstrators for almost 90 minutes.
Andrew Hanuman, a counsellor, said that he was at a similar conference in London two years ago.
“There is a lot of plotting and a lot of scheming going on in there.
“These therapists seem to have and unhealthy obsession with homosexuality,” he added, pointing at the Emmanuel Centre.
Mr. Hanuman thought that the demonstration helped to raise public awareness of therapy by the ‘ex-gay’ movement – mostly centred on religion.
“In some small way, it even helps with the terrible situation in Uganda where the government is working with American therapists, who were recently in the country for a conference.
“In Uganda, gays have a choice – jail or therapy,” he pointed out.
Tony Fenwick of SchoolsOut and LGBT History Month emphasised that sexual orientation is not a disease.
“So you can’t cure it.
“I’m here for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender children in our schools who cannot ‘come out’ because they don’t feel safe.
“They need understanding – not cures. And our schools need to be safe places.”
Also among the demonstrators was Derek Lennard, the UK co-ordinator of International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO).
“We need to remember today that IDAHO commemorates the day in 1990 when homosexuality was removed from the list of mental disorders by the World Health Organisation.
“LGBT people who are being persecuted around the world will want us to make sure that homosexuality is never regarded as a mental illness again,” he added.
Such was the atmosphere at the demonstration, a handful of those attending the conference came out and offered bottled water and biscuits to the demonstrators.
Arthur Goldberg, one of the American speakers from the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), mingled for a short time with demonstrators. “We do not cure,” he insisted while talking with a group of Jewish demonstrators.
Michael Franklin, spokesperson for the organisers of the demonstration, said that over 100 attended – probably some 150 in total during the two hours.
“Yes, I am pleased by the turnout – everything was arranged in a few days,” he said.
In a statement issued yesterday, the Royal College of Psychiatrists said it was concerned about the positions promoted by bodies NARTH are not supported by science.
“There is no sound scientific evidence that sexual orientation can be changed,” a spokesperson said.
“So-called treatments of homosexuality as recommended by NARTH create a setting in which prejudice and discrimination can flourish.”
The Royal College said it held the view that lesbian, gay and bisexual people should be regarded as valued members of society who have exactly similar rights and responsibilities as all other citizens.
“This includes equal access to health care, the rights and responsibilities involved in a civil partnership, the rights and responsibilities involved in procreating and bringing up children, freedom to practice a religion as a lay person or religious leader and freedom from harassment or discrimination in any sphere.
The statement emphasised that gay and bisexual people should have the “right to protection from therapies that are potentially damaging, particularly those that purport to change sexual orientation.”