Therapy Bans: Why Freedom of Worship is not Freedom of Conscience

Mar 21, 2019 by

by Michael Davidson, Core Issues Trust:

When X Factor Malta contestant Matthew Grech met Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM) activist Gabby Calleja who is also Head of the government’s Human Rights and Integration Directorate, we get the clearest indication yet of the nature of the conflict around “conversion therapy” and the purpose of therapy bans. Malta is something of a window in this regard. Therapy bans oppose the Biblical prohibition on homosexual acts, and as such represent an opposing world view on the subject. Forget “therapy”, it’s “conversion” that’s the real target. Perhaps that’s why of the 1200 charities promoting religion in the UK, Core Issues Trust is specifically named by the National Secular Society‘s most recent attempt,  “For the Public Benefit?” to impose secularism and ban religion as a public benefit. Individuals and churches who oppose therapy bans, thereby denying Biblical prohibitions on homosexual activity do so as a matter of conscience. This requires much more than merely allowing them freedom of worship.

The Malta Independent discussion (Interview 1, below) is around the idea of “change” – and whether sexual “orientation” is both innate and immutable. Gabby says yes, Matthew disagrees. Despite attempts to assert that homosexual feelings can’t change and in fact endure in “ex-gays” by both Rachel the presenter and Calleja, irrespective of changes in behaviours as reported by Matthew Grech, he points to the Biblical emphasis on behaviours that are forbidden.  He also points to the absence of any evidence of identities being rejected by the Bible writers – it’s the verbs (the acts of homosexual practice) that the Bible uses, that are important. Matthew’s reference is to self-control and the fruit of the Spirit. The discussion usefully indicates the centrality of the notion of “orientation” – in Gabby’s view clearly this is a categorical position that cannot change; the implication of Matthew’s view is that it’s probably an extra-Biblical term – unnecessary since Christians are called to walk by the Spirit and not by the flesh. “It’s not about who you are its about what you do with your body” he says (3.48).

Now according to Calleja, the law forbidding “conversion therapy” in Malta “is coming from science, from research that shows that conversion practices first of all are not effective…you cannot change sexual orientation.’ Grech disagrees, and Calleja retorts affirming the group think in the West we are now accustomed to, that “it is accepted by the therapeutic community all over the world”. Grech asserts the contrary, no doubt referring to the fact that despite its reservations and warnings about change-allowing therapies, the largest psychological professional body in the world, the American Psychological Association (APA), discourages – but does not forbid them. Claiming that there is categorical evidence that such therapy is “unsuccessful” and in certain cases “harmful”, Calleja admits that the psychotherapists and medical practitioners are already “covered by ethical practices and professional codes of conduct” in this regard. But then interestingly, she indicates that the ban (because, she claims it promotes hate) extends to other sectors (8.00) ie, the church we presume. The fact is she conflates the decisions taken by the mental health bodies and the available scientific evidence which she assumes is in place and thinks is supportive of these standpoints. She’s wrong.

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