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Psychiatrists back down on 'born gay' claim

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In a highly significant development, the Royal College of Psychiatrists has changed its position on the causes and nature of same-sex attraction.

The review follows strong criticism made by the Christian Medical Fellowship and Core Issues Trust of the way in which the Royal College had handled scientific evidence on the issue. 

In its latest statement, the Royal College states that "sexual orientation is determined by a combination of biological and postnatal environmental factors" and goes on to say that "[it] is not the case that sexual orientation is immutable or might not vary to some extent in a person's life" (emphasis added).

This represents a major shift from its previous position, which is still reflected in other parts of the Royal College's website (e.g. "there is no substantive evidence to support the suggestion that the nature of parenting or early childhood experiences have any role in the formation of a person's fundamental heterosexual or homosexual orientation").

In justifying its new position, the Royal College cites studies that are over 10 years old. There is no explanation as to why weight had not previously been given to these. The Christian Medical Fellowship and Core Issues Trust had critiqued the Royal College's approach to evidence in their submissions to the Church of England's Pilling Report.

However, in spite of the recognition that post-birth factors play a part in development of sexual attraction and that sexual orientation is not immutable, the Royal College maintains its opposition to therapy aimed at helping people explore the possibility of change in sexual orientation. Instead it suggests that such therapy is 'potentially harmful' but cannot point to any hard evidence to justify such an assertion. 

Andrea Williams commented:

"This is a remarkable development. The Royal College has been held to account by Christian organisations that have simply pointed to the hard scientific evidence which was being ignored, apparently because of ideologically driven blindness. Begrudgingly, the Royal College has changed its position but it still supports those who seek to deny help to those who face unwanted same-sex attraction. It claims that such therapy is 'potentially damaging' but where is the hard scientific evidence for that?

"The assumption that people are 'born gay' has become deeply rooted in our society and has driven huge political, social and cultural change. Yet now the Royal College of Psychiatrists has admitted that things are not so simple and that post-birth environmental factors play a part. It is a step in the right direction and I want to congratulate the Christian Medical Fellowship and Core Issues Trust for their painstaking perseverance to ensure that public debate acknowledges truth. We will continue to work to ensure that those facing unwanted same-sex attraction can access appropriate therapy."

Read the response from Core Issues Trust here >

Find out more - 'Debunking the Myths'

These developments will be discussed at the forthcoming 'Debunking the Myths' Conferences in London (13th June) and Belfast (14th June), featuring high-level speakers on the relationship between same-sex attraction, science and the gospel.

Well-known New Testament scholar Professor Don Carson says of one of the speakers, Robert Gagnon:

"I do not know anyone more deeply knowledgable about what the Bible actually says regarding these sensitive sexual issues than Robert Gagnon. His confessional commitments are deep, and he is an informed and engaging lecturer."

Don't miss out on this great opportunity, book today >