MONDAY, MAY 09, 2011 By NESTOR LAIVIERA
Psychologist denies practicing 'Christian' reparative treatment for gay men, demands her marriage to pastor not to be reported.
Psychologist Mariella Blackman has denied claims that she offers 'Christian' reparative treatment for homosexuals, after her husband - televangelist pastor Gordon-John Manché - cancelled a testimonial of three gay men who said they had been converted and turned straight.
Blackman however demanded that MaltaToday does not report her denial, if the newspaper mentioned that she was married to Manché. After first providing comments explaining her position, Blackman requested that the article omit mentioning the fact that she is marriage to the pastor, whose gay 'faith conversion' event drew the ire of hundreds and prompted protest plans.
When told that MaltaToday would not withhold such information from its reportage, Blackman withdrew her comments. Her marriage to Manché has already been reported in the media.
Blackman a well known psychologist amongst TV audiences, having also served as vice president of the Malta Union of Professional Psychologists. She is no longer on the union's executive.
In 2007, she had her warrant temporarily withdrawn over issues which arose over the equivalence of her City University in London Masters degree with those issued by the University of Malta.
The issue of 'faith' conversion and homosexual 'reparative therapy' hit the headlines days ago when on Thursday evening, a conversion event organised by Smash TV's evangelical charismatic pastor Gordon-John Manché was announced on Facebook.
The Facebook event 'Gay no more – Made new by the power of Christ' was cancelled by Manché after protestors planned to picket the event. This latter protest was later cancelled due to lack of police permits.
Manché said his activity had been "hijacked by people incited by others" and said his critics were being intolerant. "It's not therapy. It was going to be testimonials from three men who were homosexuals before giving their life to Christ. It's got nothing to do with hating homosexuals," Manché said.
He also denied claims that his wife Mariella Blackman does 'reparative treatment' for gay men and women. "This is untrue. We work different jobs and we're professional about it. I'm a pastor, she's a psychologist."
The claims surfaced following the outrage provoked by the faith conversion event, which many decried as homophobia or 'racial hatred'.
The Malta Gay Rights Movement also expressed 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)."
It referred to statements by the American Psychological Association (2009), which said that, according to studies, such efforts only lead to individuals merely learning 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."
In a statement on Friday, the National Youth Council (KNZ) also condemned the event for indicating that members of the gay community "can somehow be 'healed' from their sexual orientation."
[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on MaltaToday's website.]