Bishop John Keenan, Bishop of Paisley. Image via YouTube.
LAST October the Scottish government—presently involved in a bitter anti-democratic row with the UK parliament over its Gender Recognition Reform Bill—vowed to introduce “comprehensive” legislation to ban conversion therapies.
Having apparently stewed (and prayed) over the issue for months, Scotland’s Catholic bishops finally issued a statement on Monday, saying:
The conclusions of the Scottish Government’s ‘expert’ advisory group on Ending Conversion Practices are gravely concerning.
If accepted, legal counsel has warned that they would outlaw pastoral care, prayer, parental guidance and advice relating to sexual orientation, expression of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression …
These proposals, if passed by the Scottish Parliament, would criminalise mainstream religious pastoral care, parental guidance, and medical or other professional intervention relating to sexual orientation, unless it was approved by the State as acceptable.
It could criminalise the Church’s teaching about God’s creation of the human person as male and female and the meaning of sex as within marriage, and that anyone who proposes this teaching to someone with same sex attraction or gender identity issues would face sanctions. This would apply even if the person with these issues wanted help to follow Church teaching since this law would say they cannot consent to this teaching.
Priests could be banned from working in Scotland, the Church could lose its charitable status, and classroom and pastoral teachers could lose their jobs. There would be uncertainty about the future of Catholic schools and children could be taken away from their parents. As the first educators of their children, parents alone have the right to advise and guide their children in such matters.
BBC’s anti-homophobia film annoyed Keenan
I should point out that I chose an image of Keenan to head this piece because, around five years ago, he castigated the BBC for producing a short film titled Homophobia in 2018, Time for Love.
A nice touch was the portrayal ofJesus crackers as Poundland Mini-Cheddars.
The film, broadcast on the corporation’s digital platform, ‘The Social’, portrays hatred towards gay people and suggests Catholics are the root of the problem, with detailed references to the teachings and liturgy of the Church.
With several deeply insulting and offensive representations, the video includes a clip which says the Catholic Sacrament of Holy Communion ‘tastes like cardboard and smells like hate’.
Screenshot via Facebook.
After asserting that hatred toward Catholics was a big thing in Scotland, he wrote:
When it comes to important public debates about the wellbeing of the human person and the truth and meaning of human sexuality Catholics feel their views are becoming increasingly marginalised, almost criminalised.
The Director of the Scottish Catholic Media Office, Peter Kearney, also waded in and sent a complaint to the Head of Public Policy and Corporate Affairs at BBC Scotland.
The gratuitously disrespectful representation of the Mass constitute exactly the type of disrespect which the [BBC] guidelines seek to avoid.
Banning conversion therapy in England and Wales
It was announced this week that the UK government— which has been dithering for years over whether or not to outlaw the disgusting practice of conversion therapy—will now finally proceed with legislation to ban attempts to change a person’s sexuality and also attempts to change someone’s gender identity.
ITV reported that the government had previously said that trans conversion therapy would be excluded from a ban.
It’s understood that Downing Street has been surprised by the level of cross-party support—including from within the Conservative Party—for a total ban.
And yesterday the Welsh government announced that a group of experts will work together to advise on actions to ban conversion practices in Wales for all LGBTQ+ people.
My own experience of conversion therapy
I know a great deal about attempts to change one’s sexual orientation, having reluctantly agreed to seek psychiatric help back in the 1960s when I was still living in South Africa. Pressure had been put on me by my parents.
Fortunately, the psychiatrist I saw was way ahead of his time, and flatly dismissed the idea that such change could be ever be accomplished.
Image via YouTube
Others I knew weren’t so lucky. One very close friend who was treated by South Africa’s leading “expert” in conversion therapy—Dr Aubrey Levin, above, who was retained by the country’s defence force to “cure” gay recruits— committed suicide.
That happened after he fell into the clutches of a Christian cult called the Children of God, which persuaded him to hand over to it all of his money (he’d come into a large inheritance) as well as his house.
Another was rendered incapable of having any sexual relationships, and almost drank himself to death.
Despite being Jewish, Levin was an ardent supporter of the apartheid system and other far-right causes. Furthermore he was himself homosexual!
After he left South Africa he settled to practice in Canada, and in 2013 was jailed for five years for sexually abusing a number of his patients, but did not serve the full term.
His legal defence had failed to convince a pre-trial hearing that Levin was mentally unfit to stand trial.
Ironically, another South African homosexual—er, “former homosexual”— who runs the UK’s largest conversion therapy outfits is Mike Davidson, of the Northern Ireland based Core Issues Trust.
He explains in the video below how, with psychiatric help, he successfully became “straight” and subsequently married a woman.
Note: Last year, shortly after I was sacked without due process from my post as editor of The Freethinker, I wrote an in-depth piece for OnlySky entitled “My narrow escape from the horrors of conversion therapy.”
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