Sunday, 8 May 2011

Malta Today: Malta Gay Rights Movement reacts to evangelist's 'faith conversion'
The Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM) points to American Psychologist Association's standpoint on sexual orientation change efforts that dismisses 'faith-based' conversions.

The MGRM was reacting to reports that Smash TV's evangelical charismatic pastor Gordon-John Manché was planning a homosexual conversion event: 'Gay no more – Made new by the power of Christ'.

The facebook page dedicated to the event was met with rage by hundreds of Facebook users which responded with plans for a protest outside the River of Love Christian Fellowship in Zebbug.

In a statement on Saturday, MGRM expressed its concern at "the emergence of ongoing efforts by Gordon-John Manche, pastor of an evangelical church in Malta to mischaracterize homosexuality and promote the notion that sexual orientation can be changed and about the possible resurgence of sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE)."

The MGRM said that "SOCE has been controversial due to tensions between the values held by some faith-based organizations, on the one hand, and those held by lesbian, gay and bisexual rights organizations and professional and scientific organizations, on the other (Drescher, 2003; Drescher & Zucker, 2006)."

"This approach to sexual orientation is often based on the belief that being gay or lesbian is a mental illness, developmental disorder or spiritual or moral defect," the organisation said.

It also referred to statements by the American Psychological Association (2009):

"Contrary to claims of sexual orientation change advocates and practitioners, there is insufficient evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation. Scientifically rigorous older studies in this area found that sexual orientation was unlikely to change due to efforts designed for this purpose. Contrary to the claims of SOCE practitioners and advocates, recent research studies do not provide evidence of sexual orientation change as the research methods are inadequate to determine the effectiveness of these interventions. At most, certain studies suggested that some individuals learned how to ignore or not act on their same-sex attractions. Yet, these studies did not indicate for whom this was possible, how long it lasted or its long-term mental health effects. Also, this result was much less likely to be true for people who started out only attracted to people of the same sex."

The organisation recognised that "some LGBT individuals may seek to change their sexual orientation because of a conflict between their sexual orientation and religious beliefs."

However, it recommended that "LGBT individuals as well as their parents and friends seek licensed mental health care providers who adopt a gay affirmative approach."

This approach, it said, constituted "treating such clients by helping them explore possible life paths that address the reality of their sexual orientation, reduce the stigma associated with being gay, and respect the client's religious beliefs."

The MGRM also said that LGBT individuals should "consider possibilities for a religiously and spiritually meaningful and rewarding life that does not involve a denial or suppression of their sexual orientation."

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