Gay people have been forced to have heterosexual sex as part of conversion therapy requested by religious leaders, a Church of England campaign group has claimed.
Speaking to talkRADIO’s Matthew Wright, Jayne Ozanne, author of the 2018 National Faith & Sexuality Survey, claimed that 10% of people polled had undergone conversion therapy while three-quarters claimed the therapy had no effect on their sexual orientation.
Some 68% said that it caused them subsequently to suffer from suicidal thoughts.
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Although the Church of England General Synod banned the controversial practice two years ago, Ms Ozanne said many churches encouraged conversion therapy on a grassroots level.
"This is happening right now in our midst," said Ms Ozanne.
“I put myself through conversion therapy because I really believed that was what I was supposed to be doing, that was the world I came from that said being gay was sinful, that it was wrong, that I needed to change, to get healed frankly and become ‘normal’.
“There was no option in my mind to be both gay and Christian and therefore I felt that God wanted me to put myself through healing.”
Ms Ozanne said that conversion therapy could range from private prayer to more organised activities such as seeking out a “deliverance minister” to exorcise the “spirit of homosexuality”.
A handful of respondents stated they had been forced to commit sexual acts with members of the opposite sex in an attempt to turn them straight, others were subjected to hormone treatments or electroshock therapy.
The majority of respondents said they underwent voluntary or enforced conversion therapy due to the influence of a religious leader.
She particularly criticised the Evangelical Alliance, the UK’s largest network of evangelical churches, for teaching LGBTQ Christians to practice life-long celibacy.
The most common reason for undergoing conversion therapy was 'I believe my desires were sinful'. Source: National Faith and Sexuality Survey.
The Evangelical Alliance website states: "We welcome and support the work of those individuals and organisations who responsibly seek to help Christians who experience same-sex attraction as in conflict with their commitment to live in accordance with biblical teaching.
"This help will involve counsel and pastoral support to live a chaste life and, as part of this process, some may seek and experience changes in the strength or direction of their same-sex attractions."
Ms Ozanne said: “If you teach a young teenager that they are suffering from what they refer to as ‘same-sex attraction’ and need to be celibate for life that young person will do everything they can to change themselves because they will feel ashamed of their sexual orientation, ashamed of their desires."