Friday, 20 March 2009

NI: No prosecution over 'gay' remarks

A Northern Ireland assembly member will not face prosecution over comments she made about homosexuals last year.

Iris Robinson, chair of the Stormont health committee, called for homosexuals to seek psychiatric counselling. Read more

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Donald said...

Do the views of this woman reflect those of this website?

Revd John P Richardson said...

Donald, this website does not have a 'view', but the position of Anglican Mainstream (and mainstream Anglicans) is that same-sex sexual practice is sin.

In its definitive report on Issues in Human Sexuality the House of Bishops of the Church of England suggested that those who experienced bisexual attraction should seek prayer and counselling, though they did not quite take that route with exclusively homosexual attractions.

Bisexuality remains the unaddressed issue for society, as encompassing that within our social and legal framework (as has been done with Civil Partnerships for homosexuals) is at this stage probably too difficult to contemplate.

I suggest you look at the True Freedom Trust website for more on this.

Donald said...

John, I think sometimes you deliberately misunderstand.

If someone suggested you see a psychiatrist would you feel justified in assuming they'd implied you had a mental problem? That is what this elected, head of the health select committee did.

Can the Anglican Mainstream, or the Main Anglican Stream or whomever is the People's Front of Judea today, categorically state that homosexuality is not a disease state, anymore than reading the Daily Mail or choosing a religion?

Revd John P Richardson said...

Donald, I can only respond to what has been asked, which, in the first instance, was, "Do the views of this woman reflect those of this website?"

As far as possible, I answered that question. This website is a news blog, which reflects the interests of the editor (me) and is aimed at a specific constituency (Anglican Mainstream). To do this, it uses extracts from other media, which may or may not represent views, or be expressed in ways, shared by the editor or other members of Anglican Mainstream.

In the case of Iris Robinson, the particular point of interest was felt (by myself) to be the threat of police action for her statements about homosexuality.

It is not possible, however, on the basis of such a news report to expressed unreserved support for her "views". One has to allow for inaccuracy, decontextualization, and so on. I note, for example, that she "denied she had ever indicated it was a mental health issue." Some may feel this is at odds with her reported earlier statement, but that simply illustrates the problem of being definitive on the basis of limited reporting.

Your second post asks more specific questions. In particular, "Can the Anglican Mainstream (etc) categorically state that homosexuality is not a disease state ...?"

Once again, however, a straightforward answer is not easy. The initial response must be "no", but for a number of reasons.

First, I doubt anyone can state "categorically" what homosexuality is as a 'condition'. The literature is vast and, as far as I am aware, continues to grow.

Secondly, one would want clarification on what is meant by "a disease state". It is not clear to me that the term "mental problem" equates to "disease state". I note that the American Psychiatric Association used to classify homosexuality as a mental disorder, then ceased to do so after a campaign by activists, then shifted its stance again. It might thus be wise to regard current terminology as to some extent 'fluid'.

Thirdly, and following from this last point, Anglican Mainstream is not in a position to settle the issue as to how much homosexuality can be addressed by counselling or any other intervention. There is some interesting work being done in this field, and Anglican Mainstream is sponsoring a conference on the subject in April, but in the end it is a theological association only. It is not, therefore, open to Anglican Mainstream to state anything as 'categorical' as your question asks.

The 'simple answer' is thus, I'm afraid, a good deal less than simple, but that is sometimes the nature of things. I do hope, however, that you feel I have not simply ignored your question!

Revd John P Richardson said...

Donald, if you're still following this, I'm sure you'll be interested in this article at the main Anglican Mainstream site Gays still seek help from therapists to reorientate.

Please note, I haven't even read it yet - I just link it from here to show that there is a variety of material and approaches out there. I leave you to make your own judgement as to the quality of it.

Revd John P Richardson said...

PS I've just read it, and it turns out to be quite pertinent to this thread!

Donald said...

As ever John, you and I cannot read the same stuff and come to the same conclusion. The science press reported the article thus:
"Prof Michael King, who led the study, said: 'There is very little evidence to show that attempting to treat a person's homosexual feelings is effective and, in fact, it can actually be harmful. So it is surprising that a significant minority of practitioners still offer this help to their clients.'
The Department of Health added: 'Homosexuality is not a mental disorder and does not need treatment.'
And your comment regarding the APA is more than 30 years out of date:
"In 1973, the weight of empirical data, coupled with changing social
norms and the development of a politically active gay community in the
United States, led the Board of Directors of the American Psychiatric
Association to remove homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical
Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Some psychiatrists who fiercely
opposed their action subsequently circulated a petition calling for a
vote on the issue by the Association's membership. That vote was held in
1974, and the Board's decision was ratified." - UC Davies Psychology Dept.

Richard Brown said...

Nevertheless, there are many organisations that do exist that offer counselling and treatment for those uneasy about their homosexual tendencies and/or practice. Such organisations would not exist if there was not a market for them.

Donald said...

These organisation exist because of the pressure and name calling from the religious right causing the problem. Fancy being a gay minister or bishop - you'd need plenty counselling??? Tolerance, hmmm. You seem not to worry about masturbators, vasectomy clinics, sex before marriage - all leading to hell. IMHO as this would mark you as so far removed from reality that your lose what little flock you have left.