The Evangelical practice of turning gay men and women straight or urging them to suppress their sexual orientation is harmful and should be banned, according to the head of the Malta Gay Rights Movement, Gabi Calleja.
Ms Calleja said the practice had been outlawed in several countries and she hoped Malta would follow suit, because this could have negative effects on those made to undergo such unorthodox therapies.
When contacted, a government spokesman said the Ministry for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties was already looking into different models of legislation that criminalised the so-called “conversion therapy”.
Ms Calleja was reacting to a report in The Sunday Times of Malta yesterday that a Texas preacher was in Malta to spread his belief that being gay was a mental illness. ( http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20150614/local/preacher-i-know-how-to-cure-the-mentally-ill-gays.572393 )
Ms Calleja said homophobia and heteronormativity (the belief that a heterosexual orientation is normal and others are not) were still common place in Malta.
“This means that, often, gay people experience difficulties in coming to terms with their sexual orientation. Most overcome this internalised homophobia and develop a healthy sense of identity,” she said. Ms Calleja’s concerns were more directed towards those whose internalised homophobia has never been resolved. These people, she said, were often vulnerable to religious movements such as River of Love.
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Meanwhile, the Drachma Group and the Drachma Parents' Support Group in a statement today said the scientific world has consistently shown that homosexuality is not a mental illness although there are still discussions going on in the medical world as to its exact origins.
It was ridiculous and even offensive to label LGBTIQ persons as ‘mentally ill’ persons and indeed, it was diatribes and hate speech such as these that really harmed people and traumatised them unjustly and unnecessarily.
"We affirm that LGBTIQ persons are part of God’s creation and are a regularly occurring variant in nature. There is nothing mentally wrong with LGBTIQ persons and their dignity is rooted in the divine personhood of God in the same way that all persons are created in the image of God. It is also not a matter of choice, nor is it reversible or curable but an identity rooted fundamentally in the person’s being. Indeed, the so called ‘reparative’ therapies have been harmful to gay people and their dignity precisely because it urges them to eradicate their own being in the name of a ‘lie’ that reparative therapists try to propagate, more often than not for a hefty price," Drachma said.