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Why Vue Cinemas is muddled in saying ex-gay film contradicted its 'values'

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Carys Moseley explores Vue Cinemas’ muddled values.

This past Wednesday Vue Cinemas paid an undisclosed fee for breach of contract to Core Issues Trust for its last-minute cancellation of the ex-gay documentary film Voices of the Silenced. However Vue stubbornly defended its original statement that showing the film would go against its ‘values’. 

Upon closer inspection it is clear that Vue Cinemas is more than a little muddled about values relevant to the screening of the film. Two reasons taken together stand out. The first relates to the available evidence for change in sexual attractions and orientation as well as for the social attitudes of clients in this field, whilst the second relates to Vue’s own business practices.

Recent evidence for change in sexual attraction and orientation

Whether Vue Cinemas likes it or not there is peer-reviewed evidence of change from same-sex to heterosexual attraction and orientation in some people, both spontaneous and due to engaging voluntarily in psychotherapy for Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE).

First, in a recently published study based on a convenience sample of 125 religious men in the USA who chose to engage in therapy, a high percentage saw change. The authors of that study provide a careful discussion of the limitations of studies designed to measure harm of SOCE therapy. Second, there is also some evidence from recent nationally representative samples in the USA; see here and here. Third, there is some evidence that traditional, Christian values shape the decision of people who experience same-sex attraction but do not identify as LGB. Again this comes from a nationally representative sample in the USA. These people not only are more likely to engage in SOCE therapy, they are also more likely to believe that children should be brought up in a traditional family with a married mother and father. This indeed often motivates therapeutic engagement.

Taking all three kinds of study together, they provide good evidence for change along with the motivations and attitudes accompanying it. It is relevant to point out that Vue Cinemas has direct and indirect links to several countries where therapy is not under attack as it is in the UK, and which do not recognise either same-sex ‘marriage’ or parenting.

Most Vue cinemas are in countries that have not banned therapy

Therapy for unwanted same-sex attraction and transgender feelings is not actually banned in the United Kingdom, nor is it banned in most European and western countries.

Vue International, of which Vue Cinemas is a part, has cinemas in United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Denmark, Netherlands, Italy, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Taiwan.None of these countries have banned therapy for unwanted same-sex attraction. Same-sex ‘marriage’ is not recognised in Italy, Poland, Latvia or Lithuania, all of which are EU member states. Several clients from Germany and the Netherlands were interviewed in Voices of the Silenced.

Vue Cinemas supports children’s work in conservative countries

Its own website shows that Vue Cinemas supports a charity called Hope and Homes for Children. The latter moves children out of institutions into family-based care in the following countries in Central and Eastern Europe and Africa: Belarus, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, Rwanda, Sudan. Not one single one of these countries has moved to ban therapy for unwanted same-sex attraction. None of these countries recognise same-sex ‘marriage’ or parenting. Some, such as Romania, have inscribed the natural definition of marriage as between one man and one woman into their constitutions.

This means that none of the children brought out of orphanages and put up for adoption by this charity will have been given to same-sex couples. This is relevant to Vue’s refusal to screen the film because, as shown above, people who desire to move away from same-sex attraction often want to enter a traditional marriage and raise children with a spouse of the opposite sex. They have reflected on this and realised that it is the best context for raising children.

Fifty Shades of Grey proudly promoted by Vue Cinemas

In the UK in 2015 Vue Cinemas enthusiastically promoted the screening of the blockbuster hit Fifty Shades of Grey, a film which shamelessly celebrated sado-masochism (BDSM). At the time the press reported the CEO of Vue Cinemas saying this:

"The Fifty Shades Of Grey film adaptation was always going to be popular with audiences but the combination of it being Valentine's weekend was the ideal scenario for record-breaking movie-going in Europe."

What sort of ‘values’ are represented by this film? The inverse morality of deliberate infliction of and suffering of pain for sexual gratification, something which is well and truly crazy. Sado-masochism is a sexual perversion that can be and is practised by either heterosexual or homosexual people. It is also something for which some ex-gays seek help, a fact that may become relevant to the current government’s single-minded obsession with banning Sexual Orientation Change Efforts. As such, it is relevant in relation to the fact that Vue Cinemas chose to censor Voices of the Silenced.

Nothing to be proud of in censoring ‘Voices of the Silenced’

Taking all of this evidence together, it is possible to argue that Vue Cinemas has inadvertedly been inconsistent. Perhaps this is understandable given that it is a commercial company responsible for screening a great variety of films. However, the ‘values’ exemplified by one of their most highly-promoted films in recent years, Fifty Shades of Grey, are not decent, good, normal, Christian values or indeed ones that anybody with a good conscience or any civilised society would recognise. They are in direct contradiction to the content of Voices of the Silenced.