Homosexual protesters are planning to gather at a conference in London tomorrow featuring a therapist who helps men struggling with same-sex attraction.
Activist groups say Dr Joseph Nicolosi’s therapy is “dangerous”, arguing that the conference is giving a platform to “homophobic” ideas.
Listen to Dr Nicolosi discussinghis approach
Many advocates of ‘gay rights’ legislation argue that homosexuality is fixed, like race, rather than a changeable characteristic. However, other homosexuals have insisted it is a choice.
Dr Nicolosi will speak at a two-day conference, organised by Christian groups Anglican Mainstream and CARE, which will have “a special focus on how religious professionals and friends/relatives can respond biblically and pastorally to those struggling with unwanted SSA (same-sex attraction)”.
Dr Nicolosi told the BBC his approach focuses on men’s “sense of self, self-esteem, relational issues, attachment issues, intimacy issues” rather than homosexual activity itself.
However, he says, by addressing these deeper issues many men find a “diminishment in their homosexual temptations” and “an increase in their attraction towards women”. Around two in three men change their sexual orientation as a result of the therapy, he says.
Dr Nicolosi said he has “a great deal of evidence showing that these individuals are not harmed and that the therapy does work”, which he hopes will be accepted by the American Psychiatric Association (APA).
He refuted claims that the APA did not accept that sexual orientation could change, saying that although they are “cautious” they do not dismiss the evidence “out of hand”.
The UK’s Royal College of Psychiatrists, however, said: “There is no sound scientific evidence that sexual orientation can be changed.
“Furthermore, so-called treatments of homosexuality create a setting in which prejudice and discrimination can flourish.”
But earlier this year a survey of over 1,400 mental health professionals found that 17 per cent had assisted at least one client to reduce or change his or her feelings for members of the same sex.
Last year DUP MP Iris Robinson faced a barrage of criticism after she mentioned the possibility of therapy to help people with unwanted homosexual feelings.
The Bishop of Chester was investigated by the Cheshire constabulary in November 2003 after he told his local newspaper of research showing that some homosexuals re-orientated to heterosexuality. The police passed a file to the Crown Prosecution Service who decided not to prosecute.
The Church of England has officially distanced itself from tomorrow’s conference, where around 150 protesters are so far expected to gather, but Anglican Mainstream say Dr Nicolosi’s approach needs to be made known.
A spokesperson for the Lesbian and Gay Foundation said: “It is worrying to hear of this conference aimed at promoting such a deplorable and dangerous approach to therapy, and giving a platform to homophobic ideas.”
However, Dr Nicolosi told the BBC: “It’s easy to stereotype this kind of therapy as we’re forcing them to do this behaviour or that behaviour; it’s not about the behaviour it’s about attachment, it’s about making that emotional bonding, feeling like you’re a man, feeling like you’re one of the men, and feeling accepted by them, and that seems to diminish the homosexual desire.”
He added: “We’re working with them fundamentally – it’s not about behaviour, it’s not about self-control or directing their temptations, it’s not about that at all.
“These individuals actually experience a diminishment in their homosexual temptations, and they experience an increase in their attraction towards women.”