How hard is it to come out as a gay sportsman / sportswomen / person?

With a small amount of research I have discovered that since 1900, one hundred and fourteen years in total, there have only been 24 (twenty-four) sports people in the British Isles who have been our or come out as gay.

Document:    Sports people who have come out in the British Isles

So why don’t sportsmen and sportswomen ‘come out’ if they are gay?  Of course there is no reason why someone has to announce they are gay, there is no law, no contract (indeed there may even be contracts preventing it); but, with so few sportsmen and sportswomen visible who are gay, then those growing up don’t have positive role models to aspire to.  It also enables the continuing stigmatisation of the LGBT community.

John Amaechi, the British basketballer said ‘…people have a misconception that time will automatically bring progress and that homophobia is in the decline … if you’re associated with a word that has so many pejorative connotations – ‘gay’ regularly used to mean bad, weak, wrong, sinful – it’s going to affect you’

History has shown that gay women in sports are more routinely accepted than men; but even they have been the target of bullying on and off the field, in society and in the media.

Gay men in sports are stigmatised more because being a sportsman means you are rough, tough and a ladiesman.  If you are gay you can’t be a great sportsman.

Secondly, all spo0rtsmen and sportswomen depend on sponsorship, and the sponsors have not necessarily bee supportive of equality and freedom for LGBT athletes.

 

As I referred to at the start of this article, there are 24 noted sportsmen and sportswomen:

  • 4 in the 1990s
  • 5 in the 2000s

And

  • 6 so far in the 2010s

Hopefully the tide is turning and society is more accepting, also the establishment which controls the laws and the purse strings of so much sponsorship.

What will be even more interesting is to watch and review the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia during and after the event in relationship to both the athletes who are LGBT and who go there and perform, and also for the local LGBT groups and individuals who are suffering persecution through the new laws and trumped charges and arrests.

Premier Putin’s homophobia has been shown up repeatedly, and the Mayor of Sochi (Anatoly Pakhomov) would seem to be equally homophobic ( or is he just securing his political position?) – his latest speech stating that there are no gays living in Sochi only further highlight’s Russia’s perilous states for LGBT people.

Criminal Records – Should they haunt you for life?

On November 8th, last year (2013) the Belfast Telegraph ran an article from Bob Ashford on ‘Wipe the slate clean for minors’.

Does one mistake haunt you for life!

He ruminating on how one event, when he was 13, has prevented him from applying for the role of Police and Crime Commissioner for Avon and Somerset.  After 40 years working as a social worker, and becoming director of strategy at the Youth Justice Board, his one misdemeanor which resulted in a fine in 1966, has prevented him from taking up a role he is obviously eminently qualified for.

This article then led me to wonder what does a criminal record prevent you from doing?  In most formal circumstances, offenders are legally obliged to declare a conviction when asked, until it becomes “spent”: currently this takes seven years for sentences of up to six months and a decade for sentences of up to 2.5 years. Sentences longer than that are never spent. This may entail disclosing a conviction to employers, insurers, landlords, financial services providers, education institutions, visa and adoption agencies and others.

On top of this, employers can request a standard criminal record check—where convictions show up for life—for certain jobs within the health, financial, security and legal sectors. This also includes cautions, which are given without trial when the offender accepts responsibility for a minor offence such as writing graffiti. Jobs involving working with children or vulnerable adults require an enhanced criminal record check, which includes all convictions, cautions and any other information held by police forces that is considered “relevant,” including, potentially, crimes of which a person has been a victim and occasions when officers have visited an individual’s address.

In some cases, a criminal record is an absolute bar to an application. Those convicted of certain sexual offences are blocked completely from adopting, and some violent or sexual offenders are prevented from working with children and vulnerable adults—the government’s Disclosure and Barring Service operates a list of people banned from these positions. In other professions, regulatory bodies have their own rules, which means that anyone who has received a custodial or suspended sentence can generally not become a doctor, lawyer or accountant, among other things.

Even in unregulated professions finding work can be difficult with a conviction. Employers and others are legally entitled to discriminate against an applicant on the grounds of an unspent conviction, regardless of its relevance to the position.

The Poverty Site has given the following statistics:

 

  • 74,000 children aged 10 to 17 were found guilty of, or cautioned for, indictable offences in 2010.  Numbers have fallen sharply in each year since 2007, when the number was 126,000.  The net result is that the number in 2010 is lower than at any time since the data first became available in the mid-1990s.
  • Both the fall in the latest three years and the rises in the years immediately before that are largely accounted for by changes in the number of cautions, with the numbers found guilty having remained stable throughout.
  • Almost half of the 74,000 offences were committed by children aged 15 or under.
  • The peak rate for offending is at ages 17 to 20, with rates being much lower from age 21 onwards and below the age of 16.
  • Nearly half of all the offences committed in 2010 by children involved theft, with drug offences and violence against the person being the other two big groups.
  • Four times as many boys are found guilty of, or cautioned for, indictable offences as girls.  Among girls, theft is by far the most likely crime to be committed, accounting for two-thirds of all crimes committed by girls.  By contrast, although still the largest single category, theft accounts for just a third of the crimes committed is estimated that by boys.

KIds do wrong things, and often do not think of the consequences for future life.  That in itself is bad enough, but when a crime which is not a crime, i.e. you are gay and experiment about being gay,  has led to a criminal record why should it hang over you for the rest of your life?

In May 2012 The Protection of Freedoms Act received Royal Assent which will enable men to wipe the records of thousands of convictions for consensual gay sex under now-repealed laws,  It estimated that 16000 convictions could now be eligible for removal from police records.

Men may now apply to the Secretary of State to disregard convictions, however essentially in large part this Act does not seem to apply in Northern Ireland.  NIGRA has written to Department of Justice for clarification and will advise of their reply as soon as possible.

Is the British Government Spying On Us?

Like most governments, the British government has played fast and loose with the legalities, and has often broken the spirit of the law if not the actual law (probably because there wasn’t one that was up to date!).

 

The latest element to come out is that USA bases in Britain are still governed by laws and agreements made in 1951, and which therefore do not take into account the developments in technology that have occurred in relation to snooping.

 

A group of British MPs have called for American military bases in the UK to be properly scrutinized under cross-party proposals after evidence emerged that they are being used for mass spying activities and drone attacks – it has been discovered that RAF Croughton – a US Air Force base and CIA relay station in Northamptonshire in southern England – was used last year to funnel data back to Washington from the network of diplomatic spy posts across Europe, known as the Special Collection Service.It also has a secure link with a US counter-terrorism facility in Djibouti, which is used for drone strikes in Yemen. Meanwhile, RAF Menwith Hill in North Yorkshire is a National Security Agency (NSA) listening facility.

 

Kat Craig, legal director of Reprieve, has said that “It is a scandal that there is so little oversight by the British government of potentially criminal activities taking place on our own soil. Moves to ensure the current unquestioning support is brought out of the shadows are therefore very welcome”

 

What is also interesting is that Tony Blair’s government gave America permission to store and analyse the email, mobile phone and internet records of potentially millions of innocent Britons. At the same time US security officials drew up plans to spy on British citizens unilaterally, without the knowledge of the UK government.

As I have said before, our civil liberties have been eroded, and are being eroded, and liberties are being taken – tell the government to stop at the next election.

 

Further reading:

A Kiss To Far – Gay Kiss on Television

Colin and Barry. Their gay relationship was one of the more controversial storylines in 1987.

Rob McNeil wrote in the Belfast Telegraph of his hopes for Ulster’s future and made reference to the first interracial kiss on television between Captain James T Kirk and Lieutenant Uhura on November 22, 1968.  His  ( McNeil’s) dream encompassed a shared future, studying a space science qualification, which would help an evolving Ulster economy towards space ‘that final frontier’.

For out community, the first gay kiss on television occurred on East Enders in January 1989, twenty-one (21) years later.!

Today interracial kissing doesn’t get a mention or complaint, but two gay men kissing still results in complaints.  Darran Little, the write of the episode, has said that ‘no progress’ in peoples’ attitudes towards gay people has been made.  Approximately 10 years before this episode, a storyline in Coronation Street with Todd kissing Nick also resulted in complaints.

Society is not adjusting fast enough to the fact that the LGBT are real, honest, people who deserve to live the full active lives just as heterosexuals do!

 

 

 

UK Government launches consultation into future of civil partnerships

Reported from Pink News:

The 12-week consultation by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) closes on 17 April 2014, and allows any member of the public to complete and return a form online or as a hard copy to be considered.

During the parliamentary debate around the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act, which will take effect on 29 March 2014, this consultation was tabled as a response to many questions around civil partnerships.

There are several possible outcomes. Some wish for civil partnerships to be opened up to opposite-sex couples, in order to give the option of civil partnerships or marriage to any couple.

Others have suggested that same-sex couples in civil partnerships could be automatically converted to marriage, and civil partnerships could be phased out altogether.

A third option of “grandfathering” the 2004 Civil Partnerships Act, which would mean that gay couples already in civil partnerships would remain so, but no civil partnerships would be issued in future.

A message from Helen Grant, Minister for Equalities, said: “We recently celebrated a historic moment for our society – making marriage available to everyone, regardless of their sexuality or gender. Now all couples will be able to enjoy the opportunity to demonstrate their love for each other and the commitment they wish to make through marriage.

“Over time, the fact that same sex couples can now marry will clearly affect the future of civil partnership. It is right, therefore, to start a review of the operation and future of the Civil Partnership Act 2004. We are doing so by launching this consultation to seek people’s views on the main options for any future changes.”

A straight couple from London last month announced their engagement, but said that they would get civilly partnered rather than married, in order to push for full marriage equality.

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell repeatedly called for the coalition’s equal marriage plans to include civil partnerships for heterosexuals.

He criticised Culture Secretary and Minister for Equalities, Maria Miller, for ruling out the measure during the same-sex marriage debate.

Last year a DCMS spokesperson said: “Civil partnerships were created for a very specific reason – to give same-sex couples access to legal rights at a time when society was not ready to give them access to marriage.

“Now that the time is right to extend marriage to same-sex couples, it is also right that we should consider the future of civil partnerships. There are strong views on both sides of this debate, and we have listened to those views. A proper review will allow us to look at the issues in a considered and thorough way, giving full consideration to the implications of any changes.”

Roger Casement: Controversies in Script and Image

Roger Casement: Controversies in Script and Image

by Jeffrey Dudgeon

QUB School of Creative Arts, Room 101, 12 University Square, Monday 22 April 2013

Jeff Dudgeon is known through his work within the LGBT Community, his courtcase against the British Government resulting in the law in Northern Ireland being brought in line with the rest of Great Britain, and this has been recognised by the award of an MBE from the Queen for his services.

He is also an author, and his book on Roger Casement has been quoted as being ‘a comprehensive view of the texts, with explanations for many of the cast of characters’

 

 

Copy of the Speech: Roger_Casement_Controversies_in_Script_and_Image_Jeffrey_Dudgeon_QUB_School_of_Creative_Arts_22_April_2013

THE NUMBERS GAME

Edited out-take
Gay Star
Issue No. 16
Summer 1985

THE NUMBERS GAME
An article by Joseph Dalton
Since roughly the time of the Korean War (World War 21/2) in the late 1940s and early ’50s, the international Gay movement has drawn its inspiration and much of its intellectual armoury from the United States of America. This has entailed the use of a great deal of ‘scientific’ evidence to counter the old notion of homosexuality as a sinful, or ‘animal’ or diseased condition.
This was very wise on the part the movement in all of its manifestations from the courageous but inevitably ultra-closeted founding Mothers and Fathers (so to speak) of the Daughters of Bilitis and the Mattachine Society to the street-wise generation of Stonewall and beyond.  We appeared to be the rational, logical level-headed element in disputes with our opponents.  It justified the moral anger of the GLF (Gay Liberation Front).
Did we not rest our case on solid, scientific, empirical evidence?  Why were we waiting … for equality in law, at work, in housing?  Our arguments emboldened ourselves as individuals, and as a self-conscious factor in society, convinced or neutralised the general public, and embarrassed our opponents.  They were reduced to quoting irrelevant bits of an irrelevant Book, to smear tactics – or to silence.  Our arguments were based, in the main, on the Kinsey Report.

One In Twenty
This (‘Kinsey”) seemed to indicate that a very substantial proportion of the population was specifically homosexual.  This proportion was One in Twenty, to quote the title of Brian Magee’s condescending little volume published in 1966.  These figures have never been challenged and up until quite recently it would have been madness for Gay people to have done such questioning.  We were fighting for a place in the scheme of things.  We did not want to be thought mad, bad or dangerous to know.  Arguing about the niceties of Kinsey’s figures would have been grotesquely inappropriate.
But now the Gay movement has succeeded; this statement will be greeted with gasps of anger and astonishment; but it is undoubtedly accurate.  It may be many long years before we are fully integrated into society (and thereby change it beyond recognition) but the days of lobotomies, ice-baths and “aversion therapy”, to name some of the instruments used in “civilised” countries, are gone forever.

Classic Faults
So we can cast a cold eye on the Kinsey Report.  And note that there is a lot wrong with it.  It is, in many ways, a classic piece of American ‘social science’, with the classic faults.  These include the fact that the investigators did not go off-Campus – to test the general public.  Admittedly the general public would probably have been less forthcoming about their sexual preferences — especially if they had been out of kilter with those that were socially acceptable in the Truman (and McCarthy) years.
This means that the people surveyed by Kinsey and his assistants were, in effect, self-selected.  This alone skews the resulting figures in a number of ways.  Kinsey was known to be open-minded on sexual matters (this certainly was not the case with the majority of psychologists, psychiatrists or the medical profession in general).  Because of Kinsey’s ‘stance’ Gay people – lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and other sexual minorities were prepared to be more up-front with him, than with other investigators.  It left the investigators open to those who were not telling the truth — or were telling the investigators what they (the subjects) thought they wanted to hear.

Exaggeration
Commonsense and experience of the ‘political wing’ of the Gay movement, of the telephone helplines, the gay social groups and Centres – the ‘community’.  And of the pubs, clubs, discos, saunas – the ‘scene’, including the cottages where gay men, anyway, all meet on an equal basis, impelled the ‘the agony in the crotch’ tell us that he Kinsey figures are an exaggeration.
Homosexual people do not constitute anything even remotely like five per cent of the over-all population.  Half of that figure might be accurate and it is more than defensible to quote a figure of one per cent — or less. This figure covers homosex-ually-oriented people (largely men.  It seems accurate to say that there are fewer specifically homosexual women, possibly because in our culture women are allowed more leeway in expressing themselves physically, thus dispersing a build up of homoerotic feeling.  There has been lately the phenomenon of “political lesb-ianism”.  Women’s sexuality appears to be a more elastic thing than that of men) rather than Gay people.  GLF used “Gay” to mean anyone who was not 110% heterosexual.

One In One Hundred
This more reasonable figure gives a more realistic perspective on the position of Gay people in society.  It gives a more reasonable perspective on homosexual people as people.  If you think there are roughly three million homosexuals in the UK you must also believe that hundreds of thousands if not several million are utterly without backbone.  This is self-evidently inaccurate.  People have ‘come out’ with courage, fortitude and flair in the most difficult and painful circumstances.
Accepting that the true figure is something like six hundred thousand or fewer, spread over all age groups from early adolescence to extreme old age, it becomes obvious that most of these people have surfaced and are part of the Gay sub-culture.  This again, ranges from a yearly phone call to the local Switchboard to being … President of NIGRA  [the Northern Ireland Gay Right Association – upstart 2013].  We are, largely, aware of each other’s existence.
This assessment gives a more accurate picture of the burgeoning Gay comm-unity.  “Out” Gays are not the tip of an iceberg vanguard of a huge timorous majority, the “mere” ten thousand or so that turn out for Gay Pride marches in various parts of these islands are a substantial percentage of the overall gay population.

Creative
Instead of a ragbag of committed people all apparently going in different direct-ions, we are generally-speaking a disciplined sub-culture tending in one direction – towards genuine civil liberty and equality, and at a very fast pace.  Our apparent diffuseness irritates the tidy minded, nevertheless we are approaching emancipat-ion faster than the Catholics or the Jews did in the previous century, and faster than non-European immigrants at present.
The above may appear over-sanguine to the committed or the alienated.  It must be emphasised that building a community while exhausting is deeply satisfying.  Whether it is a few hours a week in a pub backroom that is achieved, or a full-scale Gay community centre.
The future for Gay people is bright, even if we suffer momentary setbacks.  We must be realistic, our effect on society at large, is predicated on our being in a morally strong position, where the largely indifferent majority are not prepared to oppress us, or stand over the oppression of an inoffensive minority.  And one were our enemies are reduced to living in a nostalgic dream world.  This is how the ’67 Act was achieved from ‘within the closet’.
Nobody today could listen to a Sir Cyril Osbourne clone claiming that there were no homosexuals in the House of Commons (even if a number had not come out) with a straight face.

Self-reliance
We will achieve legal equality and a rationalised age of consent, we can also achieve job protection and legal recognition and protection of longstanding relationships.  Where we may come a cropper, is demanding more out of society and / or the state than we are entitled to in terms of head count.  ‘Probable’ Gays can’t be counted as the ‘real thing’ just for the sake of bamboozling the rest of society.
Gay people have played a great part in sexualising our culture, but there’s little chance of homosexualising it.  Society will not even become ‘bi-sexual’ so much as omnisexual.  This will be the best of all settings for homosexual people and all other sexual minorities.  This will not come about by wishful thinking nor probably in a short period of time but by self-discipline and self-reliance, rising from the “bottom” to the “top”.  We are, happily, in a position where traditional notions of leaders and led simply will not function.

 

Further reading:

DO THE GAY ACTIVISTS ALLIANCE SUPPORT IAN PAISLEY ???

Out-take from Gay Star No. 2
July / August 1980

DO THE GAY ACTIVISTS ALLIANCE SUPPORT IAN PAISLEY ???

During the recent Gay Pride Week in London, members of the Northern Ireland Gay Rights Association were attacked at a meeting organised by the Gay Activists Alliance by supporters of the Troops Out Movement who argued that we should not be making any demands for a change in the law.  They said that the Government, which could make those changes, the Westminster Government, is a foreign Government which has no business legislating for Northern Ireland. By demand-ing changes in the law we are recognising the right of this foreign Government to rule over us.
It’s funny how one always has to go to London to hear arguments like that.  No one here has ever suggested that we put our interests into cold storage until the great day when Mr. Haughey becomes our Prime Minister.  Whether we want to see a united Ireland or maintain the union with Great Britain, the argument is stupid and only English people – or people who have been living a long time in England – could have thought of it.

THE CONSTITUTIONAL QUESTION
NIGRA is solely concerned with improving the lot of homosexuals in Northern Ireland.  It contains members with nationalist sympathies and members with unionist sympathies.  NIGRA as such will continue to work for gay people whatever government is in power.  We don’t argue that our interests are necessarily more important than the Constitutional question, but we leave it to members who feel strongly on either side of that question to join whatever other political bodies they like, without their decision prejudicing their membership of NIGRA.
At present, Northern Ireland exists as a region governed by Westminster and separate from the Republic.  There is no point in us asking favours from Mr Haughey who – in the unlikely event of his wanting to – can do nothing for us.  Westminster is the government with which we have to deal.  If that situation changes, we will change with it.
But perhaps our interests are affected by such ‘political’ considerations.  One thing we can probably all agree is that we don’t want to be governed by Dr Paisley who has been very active in opposition to us.  Paisley is very popular in Northern Ireland not because of his campaign against us, but because he has represented himself as the most hard line opponent of a united Ireland.  And, rightly or wrongly, most of the people living here are strongly opposed to a united Ireland.

PAISLEY IN POWER?
Because of Paisley’s popularity, any devolved government in Northern Ireland – whether it is relatively powerless thing proposed by Humphrey Atkins [the then Secretary of State – upstart 2013] or a full-blown independent Parliament – is likely to be headed by Paisley.  That is not a prospect that can fill us with delight.  So we are not enthusiastic about the idea of having a devolved government in Northern Ireland.
Furthermore, although the law in the rest of the United Kingdom is far from satisfactory, it is still better than the law here and in the Republic (where, in both places, the pre-1967 laws are still in force).
We are therefore pressing for the same laws to apply throughout the UK.  And in that general principle we have – according to a recent opinion poll – the support of over 90% of both Protestants and Catholics.  For most people, homosexuality is a marginal issue and, in what they would see as the main issues, we have always had much the same legislation as the rest of the UK, since Stormont used to pursue a ‘step by step’ policy of keeping in line with Westminster.  For example, we have the welfare legislation Labour introduced after the war [WW2 – upstart 2013] despite the fact that our largely Tory devolved government disliked it.  Since there is no great desire for legislation that is very different from that passed at Westminster, it seems that, so long as we remain in the UK, there is no need for us to have any sort of devolved Parliament.

REMOVAL OF THE TROOPS
But the Troops Out supporters aren’t interested in such a modest, ‘reformist’ approach.  They think that we should throw our interests as homosexuals to the winds, and lend all our support to efforts to get rid of the army (i. e. that we should join the Provisionals.  Or possibly the Irish Independence Party [the ‘double-I’ P, now defunct. It, like the People’s Democracy, ‘kept the seats warm’ for Sinn Féin – upstart 2013] who are the only people who are calling immediate withdrawal of the troops).  The likely result of the immediate withdrawal of the troops (after a period of open and vicious warfare) would be the establishment of an independent Ulster – with Paisley on top.  If there were to be a united Ireland, the troops would have to enforce it.  Is this what these people want?  Is it what they think we should want?
No.  We are not prepared to campaign for the removal of the troops.  And we are even prepared to oppose the removal of the troops unless there is some guarantee that it won’t result in a (possibly smaller) Paisleyite state.  And as long as we are in the UK, we want (at least) the same laws as far as homosexuals are concerned as prevail in the rest of the UK.  In making this demand, we expect the support of everyone throughout the UK who is involved in gay politics.  And we support them in their search for further changes.  AS far as those of us who want to see a united Ireland are concerned, that no more compromises their principles than demanding better pay and conditions would compromise the principles of a trade unionist who wanted to see a united Ireland.
The only possible effect of the policy proposed by the Gay Activists Alliance would be to split us into a Republican Gay Rights Movement and a Loyalist Gay Rights Movement, both of them subjecting their particular interests as gays to the greater interest of their respective ’causes’.  We are not prepared to oblige them.
Semi-editorial written, probably by Peter Brooke, then – 1980 – GS Editor.

The English Defence League (EDL) – London, East — and the Mosque

London, East — and the Mosque

The EDL (English Defence League) decided to march through Whitechapel, east London, on Saturday, 7th September (2013).  No special reason was given for this, especially as the EDL is not a London phenomenon. It is a Luton one, arising out of a thrusting Muslim community in a town on the skids.  Luton was a car-producing town until the late 1970s.  It is victim of government policy over forty years but some people have decided to blame ‘Muslims’ for the situation they find themselves in.
The EDL seems to have an obsession with the mosque on Mile End Road, near Aldgate, despite the fact that it serves people of Bengali origin, a smaller one deeper inside Bethnal Green is Somali-oriented. A cultural matter of no ideological / theological significance. The Imam of that mosque spoke, very cogently on social solidarity, to the crowd at Atab Ali Park, (named after a murdered Muslim youth) on the afternoon of September the 7th.
Somalis and Bengalis have not been prominent in ‘Islamist’ violence, so why this area is picked-on is problematical.  (Presumably Somali ‘piracy’ in the Indian Ocean is not one of the EDL’s complaints).  It was difficult to tell how many there were at the anti-EDL demo as there was a fair amount of coming and going.  (The speeches were pretty grim, if I hear the phrase ‘they shall not pass’ again I may assault the speaker.  The weather was not grim but was coldish and overcast).  There seemed to be few of the teen boys who let off steam at the previous stand-off, but there were large numbers of Muslim women there.  Towards the end of our stay in the park we were told that the EDL were returning home by way of Tower Bridge.  This was via i-Pad, I don’t know if it was tuned into a police camera or one used by a member of East End United (the group that organised the opposition to the EDL).
The EDL turnout was half of that last time (about 1,000 – still a thousand bigots too many).  This may be the end for the EDL in London.  Last time the weather was warm and sunny – this time it was damp and dank.  And on both occasions it was, surely, boring and humiliating being boxed-in; in this case into a dead end street.  The police were probably reacting to motorists’ fury about the way traffic at Aldgate was snarled up for most of a Saturday afternoon on the EDL’s previous outing in the area.

Picket outside church event on 'converting gays'

Gay Conversion therapy doesn't work

Gay Conversion therapy doesn’t work

On Saturday 18th January 2014, the Ballynahinch Baptist Church hosted the ‘Setting Love In Order’ conference organised by the Core Issues Trust.  The Trust was arguing for ‘freedom for gay people to approach psychiatrists and counsellors about their homosexuality’; this was a thinly disguised message about converting gays, or in other words ‘conversion therapy’.

 

One of the discussions was entitled: Don’t want to be gay any more?  Sorry we’re not allowed to help you! Is that ethical?’  This is a thinly disguised approach to gay conversion therapy, which Robert Spizer in 2001 was promoting, Spitzer renounced and retracted his own study in 2012, stating “I was quite wrong in the conclusions that I made from this study. The study does not provide evidence, really, that gays can change. And that’s quite an admission on my part.”He also apologized to the gay community for making unproven claims of the efficacy of reparative therapy, calling it his only professional regret. Spitzer has requested that all “ex-gay” therapy organizations such as NARTH, PFOX, American College of Pediatricians, and Focus on the Family stop citing his study as evidence for conversion therapy.

 

Pro-gay protestors outside the church were there to give the message that therapy has been discredited, it doesn’t work.  And also to give out a positive message that being LGBT is not wrong, it is not bad, and it is not broken so it doesn’t need ‘fixed’.

 

Further reading:

  1. Wikipedia-Conversion Therapy
  2. Belfast Telegraph – Protestors picket church event on ‘converting’ gays
  3. Belfast Telegraph – Row over ‘gay conversion’ conference to be held at church