Those of you who listen to my podcast or read this blog even occasionally will know that I’ve been covering Canada’s conversion therapy ban—which is now in the Senate—extensively. (You can read about the legislation here, here, here, or here.) Those that I’ve interviewed have consistently highlighted the fact that these laws encompass basic religious practices and pose a real threat to Christian communities right now. Conversion therapy bans, which are simply attempts to ban the Christian perspective on sexuality under the cover of banning genuinely unethical practices, are popping up around the world—and one writer in the United Kingdom actually stated the real intention behind these bans. From The Christian Institute:
An LGBT activist has called for Christians to be banned from praying for someone with unwanted same-sex attraction. Writing in The Independent, Matthew Hyndman, who co-founded the lobby group Ban Conversion Therapy, denies that anyone willingly seeks out such help.
“The pernicious power of prayer must be dealt with”, he said. Hyndman said that as a young adult he worked as a missionary and wrestled with his attraction to men, which he knew was sinful. However, when he revealed he was gay to his family and church, they did not condone his desires and told him to repent.
The lobbyist wrote: “Those who resist legislation against conversion therapy often resist the idea of a prayer or a pastoral conversation being subject to the scrutiny of law.”
He added: “However, if these things take place in an overwhelmingly homophobic or transphobic context the pernicious power of prayer must be dealt with.”
Ban Conversion Therapy is working with Stonewall to put pressure on the Government to introduce a ban, alongside former evangelical Steve Chalke and lesbian General Synod member Jayne Ozanne.
The Ozanne Foundation recently spearheaded a multi-faith attack challenging biblical teaching on sexual ethics and biological sex. In a declaration, it affirmed and celebrated LGBT practice and called for a ban on “all attempts to change, suppress or erase a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression”.
Chalke, founder of the Oasis Trust, has also claimed that churches risk “high-profile prosecutions” if they take a biblical stance on sexual ethics and biological sex.
He said it is “psychologically abusive” to express pastoral concern or pray for people with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion, and that preaching the biblical view of sexuality “only contributes to the already high levels of mental health issues reported among people from the LGBT+ community”.
Pastoral advice and prayer that upholds the Bible’s teaching on sexual ethics were recently criminalised in the Australian state of Victoria under a draconian new ‘conversion therapy’ law.
The new legislation outlaws any practice that seeks to change or suppress a person’s “sexual orientation or gender identity” – including prayer. Offenders face up to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of AUS$10,000 (approximately £5,600).
During the twelve-month implementation period, the state Attorney General said religious educators, teachers and ministers would be ‘re-educated’ by the government to prevent them breaking the law.
To find out about Canada’s conversion therapy ban, check out my interviews with two witnesses who struggled with same-sex attraction and testified before the Justice Committee on why counselling was so important to them: