The Transformation Potential: Is Change Possible? conference asked whether people with unwanted same-sex attraction might be able to change their orientation. It was organised by Core Issues Trust, Anglican Mainstream and Christian Concern.
Organisers vowed to challenge an earlier ‘memorandum of understanding’ by 14 UK health organisations, including NHS England, which said ‘efforts to try to change or alter sexual orientation through psychological therapies are unethical and potentially harmful’.
Speaking to The Independent, founder of Christian Concern, Andrea Minichiello Williams said: ‘Our conference is a thing that’s born out of compassion and love. We believe people should be free to choose and change their behaviour if that’s what they wish to do. We promote God’s model for sexuality which is a man and a woman.’
Oasis Trust’s Open Church conference, on the other hand, represented a more liberal point of view. The two-day event was organised by Steve Chalke and billed as an ‘important conversation’ on sexuality. Although the speakers held a variety of views, both contributors and delegates were predominantly progressive in their attitudes towards sexuality.
Questions such as ‘Why can’t gay people be cured?’ and ‘What does it mean to promote inclusive youth work?’ were discussed during the day. There was also a debate about the phrase ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’, with most agreeing the statement was unhelpful and theologically flawed as many cannot separate their sexuality from their identity.
A third conference organised by Christians about LGBT issues was cancelled after 40,000 people signed a petition against it. The Holy Sexuality Conference, organised by the Seventh-day Adventist Church, was due to take place in Marylebone but was called off after campaigners attacked the event for promoting ‘the dangerous view that homosexuality is something to be cured’.
In a statement, the Adventist Church said, ‘We are disappointed that in a society that values freedom of speech and divergence of opinion that there are those whose wish it is to silence individuals who hold a different point of view to their own.’