A number of fundamentalist Christian churches in Britain are thought to be performing ‘exorcisms’ on gays and lesbians to cure them of homosexuality.
In June, a video of a 16-year-old boy in America being “exorcised” of gay demons appeared on the internet. It provoked calls for a police investigation.
However, the practice is also happening in Britain.
According to the Metro, a Pentecostal church in north-west London offers the controversial ‘cure’. It is one of hundreds of fundamentalist churches in the UK.
Rev John Ogbe-Ogbeide, who runs the United Pentecostal Ministry in Harrow, said he carried out exorcisms on gays four or five times a year and that the procedure always worked.
He said: “The evil spirits are telling you what’s wrong is right, the opposite sex is not attractive.”
He cited a recent case where he exorcised a young man who was about to get married but was in love with a man.
Rev Ogbe-Ogbeide added that the procedure could be carried out at any age, as demons could take hold of a person at any time.
Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has called for protest against the practice and a thorough police investigation.
He said: “The exorcism rituals involve the casting out of alleged demons and witches that supposedly possess a gay person’s soul and turn them away from heterosexuality.
“There are claims that gay teenagers and young adults are being subjected to exorcisms at the insistence of their parents and pastors, in an attempt to rid them of same-sex attraction.
“The exorcisms can include traumatic emotional scenes where the victims are surrounded by a group of church elders who scream at them to drive out the evil spirits and who sometimes shake their bodies.
“When this is done to youngsters under 18, it is a form of child abuse and the police should intervene to stop it.
“Some gay adults have been pressured into exorcisms by their family members or faith communities. Other victims are people with learning difficulties or mental health problems. They have been preyed upon when they are in a vulnerable state and are not capable of giving fully informed consent.”
Tatchell called for gays and lesbians to write to Rev Ogbe-Ogbeide and their local MP to complain.
A Metropolitan Police Service spokesman said that police would consider investigating the church if complaints were received.
Peterson Toscano, a gay rights activist who spent 17 years in ex-gay therapy, has been subjected to three exorcisms.
He said, “The premise of these was that foreign demonic forces infiltrated my body and manipulated me so that I could not turn from being gay.”
“I felt desperate for a cure especially after trying so hard to change through other means. I could not comprehend why I was still gay especially after all the promises.”
“In one case in New York, ” he said, “the exorcist and her team yelled and screamed at me in English and in ‘tongues’ for over an hour touching me all over my body, jabbing me in my gut, getting close into my face, peering deeply into my eyes in hopes of provoking these evil spirits. It got so loud and out of control that a neighbour called the police who, when they came, broke it up.
“This is a form of religious abuse and spiritual violence. I found the experienced traumatised me.”