The Ozanne Foundation, directed by the leading gay evangelical Jayne Ozanne and chaired by the Rt Revd Paul Bayes, the Bishop of Liverpool, has released the results of its 2018 National Faith and Sexuality Survey.
The data shows that 281 conversion therapy survivors completed the survey.
— Ozanne Foundation (@OzanneFoundn) February 21, 2019
In July 2018 the Government issued its National LGBT+ Survey. It explored a wide range of issues. Some people were shocked that as many as 5% of respondents had been offered a form of so-called “conversion therapy” and a further 2% of respondents had tried it. ‘Conversion therapy’ attempts to change an individual’s sexual orientation through psychological or spiritual interventions.
Conversion therapy survivors found that 68.7% of respondents with mental health issues have had suicidal thoughts, while 32.4% have attempted suicide.
While the study found that 59.8% have experienced anxiety and depression requiring medication, and 41.3% have experienced anxiety and depression not requiring medication.
It also found that 40.2% have self-harmed and 24.6% have experienced eating disorders
The Ozanne Foundation survey explored to find out what motivated individuals to take part in such practices, including whether they were encouraged to do so by parents, other family members, religious leaders, or friends. They also wanted an indication as to what these types of attempts involved, what the consequences were for those who underwent the treatment, as well as the age at which they were first offered it.
Some people who filled out the survey described being forced to have sex with someone of the opposite gender as part of undergoing conversion therapy.
In current years we have seen an increased awareness of ‘conversion therapy’ within the LGBT+ community and society generally. How it is conducted varies massively between individual churches, Christian denominations and faiths. It has long been a problem for LGBT+ Christians and it is great that the debate around this important issue has now moved into the mainstream.
For too long ‘conversion therapy’ has been understood as an “issue” best dealt with by working with the medical professionals. This survey confirms that it is primarily an issue for religious organisations to address. The Government announced that they are looking to end the practice of ‘conversion therapy’ in their LGBT+ Action Plan, which was partly based on the findings of the National LGBT+ Survey. These findings clearly show that to do this the Government will have to engage directly with religious leaders and ensure that the harmful practice is stopped.
Important lessons to be learned from @OzanneFoundn national Faith & Sexuality survey. https://t.co/CEvNm4MqbR Prayer is good; prejudice is bad; care & respect for every person is essential. Calling a young #LGBT+ person ‘sinful’ can cause a lifetime’s damage. @churchofengland
— Marcus Green (@TheMarcusGreen) February 20, 2019
Group director Jayne Ozanne has undergone a form of such therapy in the past herself. Jayne said: “I’m relieved the truth is finally coming out.
“About the significant level of harm we know and have known for some time is happening in many of our churches across the country. The high levels of attempted suicides, suicidal thoughts, self-harm is much higher than even I believed it was.”
She furthermore continued that “sadly the statistics don’t show the number of people who have already taken their lives. I know of at least one person who has taken their lives since filling out the survey, but I won’t name them.”
She finally added: “We have to find creative ways of engaging senior leaders on the true horrors of these findings. I will be campaigning extensively to ensure the ban is implemented as soon as possible.”
Jayne Ozanne and Vicky Beeching, the Christian rock star, both released memoirs last year which detailed how they battled for years with their sexuality. In Just Love and Undivided, both Ozanne and Beeching describe how the hierarchies within faith organisations encouraged them to engage in various forms of ‘conversion therapy’, with devastating psychological consequences.
© 2019 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.
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