Thursday, 25 February 2016

Times: 'We never said homosexuality is a disease or disorder' - Church

Curia insists its position paper on gay conversion therapies being misquoted
Monday, February 22, 2016, 18:38

There is nothing in the Church's position paper on gay conversion therapies that can be remotely construed as implying that homosexuality is a disease or disorder, the Curia said this evening.

"It is unfortunate that the reactions to the Church’s position paper written by a group of experts have attributed statements to them which neither express their sentiments nor correspond to what they have written," the Curia said, in reaction to a barrage of criticism.

The Church position paper said that a Bill to prohibit conversion therapy, being presented to Parliament, violates the constitutional provisions on discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The Church's position elicited criticism from the government, the Opposition and the Malta Gay Rights Movement.

But in a statement this evening, the Church said it is untrue that the paper links homosexuality with child abuse.

On the contrary, the position paper clearly states that the sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression of each individual is to be affirmed rather than changed, repressed or eliminated. This is an ethical and legal principle which cannot be compromised."It is nowhere claimed that sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression are to be suppressed or eliminated. There is no reference that bisexual persons can be labelled as being promiscuous. Nowhere in the Church’s position paper have these opinions been expressed. No way are these the opinions of the authors of the position paper."

It said that conversion therapy against one's own free and informed consent is to be prohibited.

"The issue of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression may not always be so simple and clear-cut in practice. Individuals appropriate gender identities over a process of time and active self-searching."

It is ironic that in a democratic country which claims to promote civil liberties, the proposed Bill permits only counselling that can help one to explore one's sexual identity but prohibits voluntarily assistance for people seeking to resolve doubts or questions related to their sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression through appropriate forms of therapy.

"Thus, the Bill should recognise clearly that any adult person would be free to have whatever psychological services and other therapeutic services one may desire or require in relation to one’s sexual orientation, identity and gender."

The panel of seven was made up of theology faculty dean Fr Emmanuel Agius, law faculty dean Kevin Aquilina, constitutional lawyer Austin Bencini, former human rights judge Giovanni Bonello, lecturer Nadia Delicata, psychologist Fr Paul Galea and theology professor Fr George Grima.

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