A highly-positioned member of the Church of England has caused
controversy by claiming that gay people can be counselled to
suppress their desires.
Glynn Harrison is one of sixteen people on the Crown Nominations
Commission, which has the job of recommending someone to replace
Rowan Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury.
Harrison, a lay member of the commission, has written "there is
evidence that some people with unwanted same sex attractions can
achieve significant change", and refers to gay relationships as
"fall[ing] short of God's purpose in creation".
An article co-written by Harrison in 2011 -published by the
Christian Medical Fellowship- reads: "People with unwanted SSA
[same sex attraction] who seek to live in conformity with their
beliefs should be free to receive appropriate and responsible
practical care and counsel...Others may wish to explore the
possibility of achieving some degree of change in the strength or
direction of unwanted sexual interests."
Harrison is reportedly also on the board of the True Freedom
Trust, -a charity which encourages Christians to turn "towards God"
by turning from homosexuality to heterosexuality.
The claim has caused split opinions within the Church of England,
the Guardian has reported.
Supporters of Harrison's stance have argued that, as a member of
the Crown Nominations Commission, his views should be regarded as
representing the views of a large proportion of the Anglican
population, around 50 million people worldwide.
Rev Peter Ould - who previously identified himself as gay before
he "left homosexuality behind"- supports Harrison's work, saying
that "a conservative perspective on matters of human sexuality
needs to be represented on the CNC."
However, more liberal members of the Church of England are worried
that someone with such traditional views has a role in shaping the
future of the church.
Chairman of the Inclusive Church movement, Canon Giles Goddard,
has reportedly labelled Harrison's suggestions as
The Anglican Church has already been divided by opinions relating
to the consecration of gay bishops and gay civil ceremonies being
held in church.
Harrison, emeritus professor of psychiatry at Bristol University,
has refused to comment on the issue personally. However, in a
statement from the Anglican Church, he is reported to have said
that he himself has never offered a "gay cure" in the form of
counselling or therapy.