Anglican Church Leaders Come to Defense of UK ‘Gay Cure’ Doctor

You may recall a story I wrote about last year in which the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy suspended and sanctioned psychotherapist Lesley Pilkington for trying to use gay conversion therapy on Patrick Strudwick (pictured), a gay man working undercover.

StrudwickWrote Strudwick in a Guardian article:

"The client Pilkington tried to cure was me. I am an out, happily gay man. I was undercover, investigating therapists who practise this so-called conversion therapy (also known as reparative therapy) – who try to 'pray away the gay'. I asked her to make me straight. Her attempts to do so flout the advice of every major mental-health body in Britain."

Pilkington is now mounting an appeal against BACP, and guess who's coming to her defense?

Senior figures in the Church of England:

Former archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, Bishop of Chester the Rt Rev Peter Forster, and Bishop of Lewes the Rt Rev Wallace Benn were among signatories to a letter giving support to 60-year-old psychotherapist Lesley Pilkington.

In their letter, the clerics said Ms Pilkington distinguishes "very carefully" between her "non-directive" counselling and the biblical and pastoral counselling she also offers as a Christian.

"We believe that people who seek, freely, to resolve unwanted same-sex attractions hold the moral right to receive professional assistance," they said.

"Whether motivated by Christian conscience or other values, clients, not practitioners, have the prerogative to choose the yardstick by which to define themselves. Not everyone stakes their identity on sexual feelings."

Undercover Exposé of 'Gay Cure' Doc Leads to Landmark Malpractice Ruling [tr]


  1. says

    “Not everyone stakes their identity on sexual feelings.”

    Fun Fact: the only people who stake their identity on sexual feelings are those who don’t want to be gay.

    the rest of us? the Out LGBT people? we’re actually the only ones who are NOT “defined by” our sexual feelings, or orientations. It’s the Gay Apologists and those who still seek to distance themselves from the LGBT Communities that are wholly defined by how they feel about their orientation.

    those who hide and wish to “change” their attractions or orientations are the only ones who can be said to be “staking their identity” on their attractions – they’re terrified of it being a NEGATIVE identity.

    just keeping it real.

  2. Chuck Mielke says

    I must, in a limited way, agree with this statement: “We believe that people who seek, freely, to resolve unwanted same-sex attractions hold the moral right to receive professional assistance[.]”

    People must be able to choose freely the actions they think best for themselves.

    However, when the source of pain is a teaching from an organization, a teaching that creates pain and self-torment and provides no alternatives to that teaching except self-hatred, that organization is not allowing free choice. That organization is saying, “our teaching is more important than your happiness, more important than your life; sucks to be you.”

    Those who go in for “reparative therapy” are victims of such an organization. They have not been given a full range of choices. They see it as impossible to live happily as a homosexual (or whatever change they wish to make) and see only the option of changing themselves to conform with external expectations; they have not been exposed to supportive communities of similar others, supportive members of disparate groups or allies, or even the notion that they are worthy in themselves of gaining happiness as themselves. The are not shown the fact that much of their pain is caused by the wider society, not by themselves.

  3. john patrick says

    So senior leaders of the Church of England are attacking a professional organization for suspending and sanctioning a member who was acting as a charlatan in using a discredited and disproved method of treatment for a client? They are defending a “christian” therapist’s use of “snake oil” treatment?

    Professional counseling organizations have codes of ethics which typically ban treatments which are harmful to clients. The counselor should expect to have been suspended and sanctioned. Apparently the church leaders think it is okay to use these treatments if clients request them. Sounds like the leaders of these churches approve of sham treatment. Maybe that is not such a surprise after all.

  4. Ricco says

    It was a sad period of my life that I was one of those sad souls who went through reparative therapy; and while I now realize the danger behind these specious practices I do think our personal freedoms demand that we have the right to receive the treatment. It was a painful time in my life, but one I would not forego as it went far to open my eyes to the bigotry and cruelty of Christians.

    Those organizations offering this treatment should be obligated to state, upfront, that the treatment is strictly faith-based, and is not recognized as a legitimate treatment by the American Psychologists Association.

    Most importantly, it SHOULD be illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to undergo such treatment, and parents who subject their underage children to these practices should be prosecuted for child endangerment.

  5. Robert in NYC says

    They won’t get anywhere with that. The government and courts generally come down on the side of the experts who do not endorse reparative therapy.

  6. Erin says

    It is a real and ongoing travesty that the Church of England should be backing this counselor, given that their own history of both their minions and flock have centuries of gay behavior on their holy plate, yet the British (mother from Belfast) and their unholy and rarely challenged ability to turn their heads the other way when something in the real world doesn’t fit their neat, bigoted, fear-based, small-minded and hateful view of anything different remains as strong as ever. Obviously the new interpretation of Paul, validated by innumerable Biblical scholars that Paul has been misinterpreted all these centuries and he really was NOT talking against gay people is an inconvenience minimally and totally repugnant to the Anglicans who must nurture their hate, no matter what the truth might be or the emotional, psychic damage that position inflicts on people.

  7. Clint says

    I wouldn’t really label an opinion by an elderly and retired Archbishop of Canterbury and a couple of other random bishops as some sort of statement representative of the leadership of the Church of England, or something representative of Anglicanism as a whole.

  8. drdanfee says

    Using faith and morality as cover explanations which dubiously justify highly unproven and, a distinct majority of the time according to wide consensus, damaging experimental treatments is clearly untoward in this very instance. Senior Anglican church leaders would immediately know better, if this instance did not involve the categorically condemned LGBTQ person. Substitute any other similarly experimental/potentially risky treatment, program or service for this therapy, and the application is clear: No Peach Pit Chemicals Claims About Curing Cancer. So far as the golden criterion of celibacy for any and all non-straight people goes, the church leaders are also obviously skewed. Common sense and ordinary human experience and observation show us that some sexually active people are highly ethical (even to the point of being role models, perhaps), and some are sadly not. Similarly, some non-sexually-active people are wholesome and ethical, and others are clearly very frightened, self-tormented, repressed, and carefully distancing or booby-trapped with excess alarm in many different forms of important human relationships. Alas. Lord have mercy. Ditto for categorical good/bad claims about being gay or straight or in-between. PS. I am a survivor of ten years of exgay church healing/pastoral counseling, and it did nothing to make me more ethical, let alone a better person, let alone heterosexual. What it did was restrain healthy adolescent development and social life for me between age thirteen and age twenty-two (dating, friendships, adolescent honesty/integrity), and now comes to light in a combination of long-delayed, previously hidden, complicated Stress Injuries which are only now coming to the surface. Thanks to this sort of experimental exgay stuff, I now sustain symptomatic flashbacks and other typical Stress difficulties, decades after the self-prizing healing/treatments ended. Alas, alas, really need the Lord’s mercy on that one.

  9. Gregv says

    Their non-inclusive language exposes the false notion that this has anything to do with an interest in anyone’s right to self-determination.
    They talk about the patient’s right to Truro get rid of same-sex attractions rather than same-sex, opposite-sex or any sex attractions.

    I knew a heterosexual woman who had been abused by practically every male she had ever known well. She wished desperately to be gay so that she wouldn’t have to deal with abuse. A qualified therapist could have saved her years of trying in vain to change by making her realize that it is not healthy to struggle against your orientation but that she should, rather, accept what nature made her and learn to deal with issues that were actually the problem.

    Where will these people be when some snake oil salesman tells abused heterosexuals that he can take their money and make them gay?

  10. BobN says

    I should have the right to seek out treatment for, say, lung cancer, by having the bowels of mummified frogs applied to my forehead.

    That doesn’t mean anyone has the right to provide me with that service, especially for a fee.

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