Ex-Gay Adverts on London Buses

Well this took me by surprise.

London buses have been booked to carry a Christian advertising campaign expected to start next week, which asserts the power of therapy to change the sexual orientation of gay people.

The full length advert, which will appear on five different routes in the capital, is backed by the Core Issues Trust whose leader, Mike Davies, believes “homoerotic behaviour is sinful”. His charity funds “reparative therapy” for gay Christians who believe that they have homosexual feelings but want to become straight. The campaign is also backed by Anglican Mainstream, an worldwide orthodox Anglican group whose supporters have equated homosexuality with alcoholism.

The advert will say: “Not gay! Post-gay, ex-gay and proud. Get over it!” Post-gay and ex-gay are terms used by Christians and some psychotherapists and psychiatrists to refer to homosexual people who have undergone spiritual or pastoral therapy and, according to an Anglican Mainstream definition, have “now left a homosexual lifestyle [and experienced] an increased emotional and sexual attraction to the opposite biological gender and possibly a reduction in or loss of same-sex attraction.”

The buses are due to roll out on Monday morning on some of the most popular routes. They will be seen for two weeks travelling past St Paul’s Cathedral, down Oxford Street, round Trafalgar Square and through Piccadilly Circus as well as across other parts of the capital.

The campaign is an explicit attempt to hit back at gay rights group Stonewall, which ran its own bus advert saying: “Some people are gay. Get over it.” The Christian groups have used the same black, red and white colour scheme as Stonewall and accuses it of promoting the “false idea that there is indisputable scientific evidence that people are born gay”.

The Rev Lynda Rose, a spokesperson for the UK branch of Anglican Mainstream said because her group adheres to scripture that all fornication outside marriage is prohibited, it believes that homosexuals are “not being fully the people God intended us to be”.

Interesting. I had no idea that this was happening and I’m not sure what to make of it. In some senses I’m eager for the Church and wider society to really grapple with the reality of human sexuality and sexual identity. On the other hand, we’ve seen this kind of stuff before (famously Exodus ran a campaign in newspapers in the late 90s) and I’m not sure how well this will work without good media follow-up. When you look at the different names that Anglican Mainstream has put up as contacts and quotes, only one (Mike Davidson) is actually ex-gay / post-gay. Once again we have people talking about us, but no-one ask us to actually talk about our experiences.

What is fascinating and predictable is the visceral response from some. The Guardian report continues,

The former Europe minister and gay ex-vicar, Chris Bryant MP, said the advert was cruel, particularly to teenagers struggling to come to terms with their sexuality, for promoting the idea that you could become “ex-gay”.

The emotional damage that is done to the individuals who try to suppress their sexuality, the women they marry and the children they might have is immeasurable,” he said. “Most sane Christians believe that homosexuality is not a lifestyle or a choice but is a fact to be discovered or not. The pretence that homosexuality is something you can be weaned off in some way is a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of creation.”

The emotional damage is “immeasurable”? Really? And the high quality academic study (rather than just anecdotal reports) that evidences this would be? And look at the language – “suppress” sexuality. Chris Bryant has obviously never read my piece on being “post-gay” – it has nothing to do with suppressing sexuality (indeed you can’t really begin a post-gay journey until you become honest about your sexual attractions) and everything to do with trying to align your sexual identity with your moral framework.

Ben Summerskill, the chief executive of Stonewall, said the adverts were clearly homophobic and added: “The only reason some gay people might want to stop being gay is because of the prejudice of the people who are publishing the ad.

“The promotion of this voodoo therapy is hugely irresponsible given the damage that it appears to do to some people.”

Attempts to “treat” or alter sexual orientation have been strongly condemned by leading medical organisations. The Royal College of Psychiatrists has warned that “so-called treatments of homosexuality create a setting in which prejudice and discrimination flourish” and concluded in 2010 that “there is no sound evidence that sexual orientation can be changed”. The British Medical Association has also attacked “conversion therapy”, a related field to reparation therapy, passing a motion asserting that it is “discredited and harmful to those ‘treated’ “.

The RCP’s statement was never supported by any clinical evidence. It was simply a statement of opinion. Similarly, the BMA never supported their statement with any academic research.

Here’s the thing – we have as much evidence that Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE) work as we do that they don’t work. The only way to be absolutely sure would be to do controlled multi-cohort samples with separate non-therapy control groups to compare. Since this work hasn’t been done by *anyone*, it is simply incorrect to claim that these therapies don’t work. At the same time it is wrong to over-state the case for SOCE. The best research, the Jones and Yarhouse study, had a “success rate” of around 15% and success in this case was a change along the Kinsey scale on average of 1 point.

The rest of the evidence is just anecdotal and it exists on both sides. Beyond that there is just posturing and dogma with very little engagement with the hard facts on the ground.

If there are any journalists out there who want to talk to someone who is a reasonable conservative voice on this issue and who has personal experience, you know where to find me. In the meantime, I’ll try not to let me head get to big about the fact that an intellectual concept I first invented and wrote about 5 years ago is now on the side of the number 9 to Piccadilly…


Transport for London are pulling the ads. This is going to be interesting…

“We do not believe that these specific ads are consistent with TfL’s commitment to a tolerant and inclusive London.”

So they’re being tolerant and inclusive by pulling an advert that offers people a different perspective?

141 Comments on “Ex-Gay Adverts on London Buses

  1. A tolerant and inclusive London would accept post-gay and ex-gay people – unlike Chris Bryant, etc.

    I can’t help but wonder if the predictable visceral response was one of the aims of the ad: expose a bit of hypocrisy where the supporters of the original ad can’t get over a group of people’s sexuality while asking people get over a group of people’s sexuality.

    • A tolerant and inclusive London would not house any groups such as the Core Issues Trust or let them trap vulnerable people into this vile programme of “de -gaying”.  You cannot be “de gayed” – it is not a choice or lifestyle – it is who you are ; just as one is heterosexual – it is who you are.  The reason people struggle with their sexuality is that unfortunately the world is not as tolerant and inclusive as we want to believe. That is why people try and supress who they really are.

      • Tolerant: Showing willingness to allow the existence of opinions or behaviour that one does not agree with.
        Inclusive: Including all.

        How is trying to suppress opinions you disagree with tolerant? How is blocking people from the debate including all?

        Both you and TfL need a dictionary – that was all my point was saying. An inclusive London, by definition, has to let all views be aired on a bus – not excluding any – or it isn’t inclusive. A tolerant London, by definition, has to allow views it dislikes be aired on the sides of buses because tolerance means allowing views you don’t like to exist.

        • I am sorry but you clearly do not understand that it is fine to have freedom of speech and of course one is entitled to ones own views but there are some things that are fundamentally wrong and homophobia is one of them. Attacking someone because of their sexuality is just wrong. Just as attacking someone for the colour of their skin is wrong. Also you need to read the dictionary again as your use of the word tolerance is also incorrect. Gay people do not need to be tolerated, they deserve acceptance. That is the true definition of an inclusive society.

  2. Glad they pulled these ads, even if it was probably more out of a desire to protect their buses from being defaced than any real commitment to equality.

    I know if I saw something so patently ridiculous plastered over a bus, it wouldn’t stay there for very long. Everyone has a right to express themselves, but when your very identity is attacked then you also have a right to self-defence.

    Nobody would blame a Jew for removing Nazi propaganda from the side of a bus. So why should the LGBT community not protect itself from those who desire our extermination? Maybe they wouldn’t use gas chambers and ovens (although talking to Anglican Mainstream supporters makes you wonder sometimes…), but trying to brainwash the gay away is potentially just as destructive. Who knows what long term damage these mind-control programs do? I’ve met a few individuals who’ve been through them and the word “brittle” always comes to mind.

    Anyway, good on Boris and TfL. Nice to know that their concern about city property actually works to our benefit for once.

    • “Who knows what long term damage these mind-control programs do?”

      None. There is no credible academic research that demonstrates that undertaking reparative therapy causes harm. If you think otherwise, point us to the paper.

      • Vulnerable people are made so by people like you. They would only seek the ridiculous process of “reparative” therapy because they are made to hate themselves by the intolerant and bigotted views of you Mr Ould and your supporters.  Homosexuality is as intrinsic to ones DNA as hetrosexuality is.

        • “Homosexuality is as intrinsic to ones DNA as hetrosexuality is.”

          And you know this because? Is there any academic research to support this conjecture?

          • I don’t know why you need physical proof. Aren’t you a Christian ? Your religious beleifs are based on faith not an academic study

            • The definition of faith is to put one’s trust in things unseen. I’d rather stick to the concrete proof of science thank you very much. But good luck to you.

              • Science versus Faith is a false dichotomy.  I worked in R&D for years.. We can only measure some things concretely – physical things basically.  

                But we have to make all sorts of assumptions to live and not go crazy – for instance I have to have faith in my wife – I can’t measure her love for me.  In fact I can’t even measure the firmness of the pavement in front of me – I just have to have faith that it won’t collapse and swallow me up.

                That’s the sort of faith we all take for granted – and much the same sort of faith as is required to believe and trust in an useen God who does love us and does good things in our lives, if we want.

                • Your wife exists. The pavement exists. Whether you can foresee your wife cheating on you or the pavement giving way is not quite the point. These physical things you see, you touch, you smell, you taste – they register with all your senses. The same cannot be said for God. We have not seen a physical manifestation of God. We can’t even agree on a definite understanding of the Bible. Religion is devisive and cruel. The very fact that you can prey on people weak enough to rue their sexuality speaks volumes about your faith. It’s interesting how only recently a scientific study carried out by The University of Chicago and The University of Essex proved a point long held by many a sane and rational person that people who express anti-gay sentiments are themselves struggling to come to terms with their sexuality. I wonder where this study would place many of your followers?

                  • God is the creator if the universe, so  by definition we can’t see God!  But people did meet God as man, Jesus Christ and we can read about it.  However that doesn’t mean we can’t experience God – just that it’s a spiritual, rather than physical, experience..  

                    As a young scientific man at university I was very surprised when I found out that God actually is there, that God is actually interested in my life, and that He can do things…  

                    I don’t know what you have in mind regarding Christianity being cruel, but if you mean that we think that same-sex sex is wrong, then we and you could both be said to be cruel in thinking that sex between adult siblings is wrong, and that having multiple wives leads to power inequalities!  In fact the law doesn’t just think these are wrong – it PUNISHES people who engage in these relationships!!!!  Do you thin that law is right?  Many people do – and that’s *really* cruel on people who love a sibling, or who love more than one person.

                    And Finally… don’t ignore that fact that, only a few decades ago, *atheist* regimes under Stalin and Pol Pot killed millions of religious people – many more than were ever killed in the middle ages due to things like the crusades and inquisition!  Atheism is the modern cruel ideology.

                    •  I do have to laugh at conservatives invoking polygamy. That would be the same people who claim that marriage, throughout all cultures, has involved one man and one woman (have the not read the OT before making that statement – which makes them pretty poor ‘biblical’ Christians – or do they know that statements is false before they made it – which makes them liars. Neither reflects well on them, does it?). And of course polygamy was good enough for the Prophet Mohammed and Muslims are now being roped into the coalition against equal marriage. Be careful what you wish for. I think Christians would be more free in a secular democracy than they would in a world that capitulates to certain expressions of Islam.

                       And of course is someone thinks that law x is wrong then pointing out that a hypothetical group might also think that law y is wrong says precisely nothing about the legitimacy or otherwise of law x.

                       Were Pol Pot and Stalin mass-murders *because of* atheism? I hope you’ll say “no”. Their regimes were totalatarian and theocracy is one form of totalatarianism. In opposition stands democracy and human rights. As a member of the Scottish Episcopal Church, which was persecuted by other Christians (bloody Calvinists ;)) you certainly wont’ find me assuming that theocracy is better than democracy, including some of its modern secular expressions.

                    • CB, you can waste a lot of ‘ink’ if you don’t follow the thread!
                       I was pointing out the idiocy of the “cruel cos you don’t approve” argument, not the *reasons* why polygamy, or same-sex sex, are sinful.  

                      And you seem to be  defending atheism like an atheist – you do believe in God?  Communists did (and do) persecute Christians precisely because they were atheists – Christians stood in the way of *materialistic progress*… they were Enemies of the Revolution… and were exterminated in millions by Stalin and Pol Pot.  And in the UK we now have people hating us for resisting *sexual progress*, but as Jesus said “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

          • No it isn’t. Here’s a paper from Yale/Columbia Univs that demonstrates that DNA has less effect than socialisation etc
            http://www.soc.duke.edu/~jmoody77/205a/ecp/bearman_bruckner_ajs.pdfGenetically identical twins, that shared the same womb environment, show less *concordance* for homosexuality than the effect of having an opposite sex twin on the male twin of the pair.

            *Concordance – means that if one twin reports same-sex attraction the other does too 

            • Don’t read the Bearman/Brückner paper I posted a link to (above) – it will prove that your *faith* in a gay gene is wrong! ;-)

              • ‘Proof’ is a risky term in the circumstances. In fact, The twin study was repeated by both Dr Bogaert and by Swedish researchers (with a fully population representative set from the Swedish twins registry). The differences found by Bearman/Bruckner don’t stack up in the more recent studies. Bogaert specially looked for sibling socialisation effects and found none. The difference may be that the Bearman/Bruckner study relates to adolescent survey responses. The gay gene as a single gene switch does not exist IMO however genetic influence in something as mutlifactorial as sexuality is non-zero.

  3. However, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence from those of us who have been through these programmes. I’m sure if you come along to Courage, for example, there will be many who will be willing to provide you with first-hand evidence.

    • You’re right – there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence, but that exists on both sides. You prove nothing.

      By the way, do you remember I banned you because you accused me of lying and then when given four opportunities to explain how I had lied you just engaged in ad hominem? The ban still stands. If you want to either apologise or point out where I lied about KJS, use the contact form.

  4. Every ex-gay survivor I’ve ever spoken to or read comments from all point to the damage ex-gay programs do. If it were one or two people, I’d be dubious. But it’s literally thousands.

    Add to that the various testimonies of people who have been involved in running ex-gay programs and have now recanted their beliefs and admitted the harm they’ve done and you start building a picture that goes beyond the anecdotal into something much more convincing.

    But people believe what they want to believe and as in your universe ex-gay is a good thing then I doubt any kind of evidence would be enough to convince you of another point of view. Articles of faith are notoriously resistant to evidence that contradicts them.

    Personally I find it’s never worthwhile trying to convince someone of something they don’t want to be convinced of. So I tend to concentrate on defending my simple right to exist. Hence my support for direct action, such as ripping down anti-gay propaganda for example. I don’t really care what the people who pay to print such nonsense believe. It’s much more important to protect myself by ensuring their hate-filled messages are erased from public view. So yay for Boris and the common sense approach of TfL. They don’t want their buses ripped to shreds every time they go anywhere near the West End, Waterloo, Vauxhall or anywhere else where gay people might congregate. So I won’t have to put my manicure at risk or carry inconveniently bulky cans of spray paint in my satchel to deal with the slogans of those who’d like to see me disappear.

    • Steven,

      You’re absolutely right that there are plenty of testimonies of those who having gone through (and even run) ex-gay programmes who have gone back to being gay. There are also plenty of testimonies of those who haven’t. That means all we’re doing is trading anecdotes and that’s why we need proper research. At the moment the best example of that is the Jones and Yarhouse study.

      And if you think that I support the use of the term “ex-gay” then you just demonstrate (once again) that you don’t actually read anything I write, you just assume you know what I think.

      • Ex-gay, post-gay, whatever term you prefer. I understand them all to mean “I don’t want to be gay any more” so why quibble over a prefix?

        I do think it’s strange that you define yourself with a word you claim no longer applies to you though.

        I also find it strange that someone who lives by faith should place so much stock in scientific studies. Are you saying that your faith is determined by cold hard fact? Or will you always find a way to dismiss results you don’t like? The funding was suspect, the methodology was dodgy, the researchers were biased, etc., etc.

        My attitude towards the whole post/ex/whatever gay thing is based on fact, just not fact as presented within the bounds of an academic study. You can dismiss that fact as anecdotal, but the sheer number of anecdotes and the consistency of the stories told make them a great deal more compelling than anything your side can muster. All I’ve seen from the ex/post/whatever crowd are a few dubious testimonials from a few dubious individuals whose next foray into public life will probably be in a police report for cottaging or a lurid tabloid story by the last rent-boy they patronised. Those who tell tales of the harm done to them by ex/post/whatever gay ministries are just so much more credible and consistent than those who claim to have been transformed and then get caught five minutes later with their pants round their ankles in a public toilet.

        But of course the level of evidence that satisfies me won’t satisfy someone whose entire life is predicated on homosexuality being a sin. As I said earlier, articles of faith can withstand attack from even the most clear-cut of facts. We all believe what we want to believe and cherry-pick for evidence that supports us whilst ignoring or denying the evidence that does not. It’s just that some of us have a huge body of evidence to back us up, whereas others can only grasp at straws. One straw is all it takes though, which is why I’ve long since given up trying to convince anyone of anything. It really doesn’t matter how solid a case I can present, if you don’t want to believe it, you won’t.

        Which really leaves us as irreconcilably opposed on this issue. Agreement is impossible, therefore the only thing I can do is act to preserve my life and my freedom. This involves physical intervention to remove dangerous and inflammatory material that threatens members of my community. If Boris hadn’t banned these ex/post/whatever ads on the buses, people like me would have taken care of them anyway. When your opposition wants to exterminate you, self-preservation dictates that you neutralise the threat by any legal means available. Freedom of speech is all very well, but freedom to live your life unmolested is an even more fundamental right that should be respected whether you’re gay, straight or ex/post/whatever.

        • I also find it strange that someone who lives by faith should place so much stock in scientific studies. Are you saying that your faith is determined by cold hard fact? Or will you always find a way to dismiss results you don’t like? The funding was suspect, the methodology was dodgy, the researchers were biased, etc., etc.

          You’re joking right? Your last two sentences just evidence that you haven’t read any of what I wrote in even the last week. I take positive joy in pointing out when my conservative colleagues misuse research or reject good academic papers, but the fact that you hadn’t noticed that seems to evidence to me that the presuppositions here lie with you, not me.

          • OK, you do know what a question mark is, don’t you? You know, the squiggly thing with a point underneath it that you place at the end of a sentence to indicate that you’re asking for information?

            I was accusing you of nothing. I was merely asking how the presentation of facts affects your faith. It’s a fair question. So many Christians just ignore facts when they don’t agree with their preconceived notions.

            If you take serious studies seriously and your faith is informed by their findings then all well and good. But completely ignoring the vast body of extremely compelling and consistent individual accounts about the damage done by ex/post/whatever gay “therapy” doesn’t speak of true open-mindedness. 

            If you dismiss experiences that don’t agree with yours on the spurious grounds that someone with letters after his name hasn’t written them down and formally presented them as a study then you leave yourself wide open to charges of pedantry, bias and ill will. It just looks too much like you’re ignoring them because their witness doesn’t agree with your beliefs.

            • You were being sarcastic. The whole tone of so many of your comments is sarcastic.

              If *you* take serious studies seriously you’ll realise that the “vast body” of accounts of damage can simply be put alongside all the accounts of those people who have gone through these kinds of therapies and reported no harm? Who is correct? The only way to really find out is to do a proper clinical study. You may not like it, but the closest we’ve ever come to that is the Jones and Yarhouse study and that reported (in probably the most statistically significant part of their report) that there was no evidence of harm. Have you read that bit of the papers from J&Y?

              I don’t dismiss experiences that don’t agree with mine, that is the whole point of this site. Unlike other conservatives I grapple with these issues and am willing to criticise other conservatives where appropriate. The fact that you couldn’t spend a few minutes actually reading what’s on this site instead of just assuming what my position was and then attacking the straw-man you had created should lead *you* to consider who is open to charges of bias and ill will.

  5. The Guardian also posted a pretty thorough look at the thingy and Yarhouse study here:


    As the (now) main plank of the conservative cause, it does look extraordinarily weak — much weaker than the scientific evidence base for homeopathy, for instance.  And you’d think that in America in particular, where large groups have millions to invest in this stuff, that someone would have constructed a proper study if they hadn’t been so scared of what the answer might be.

    One of the things about the ‘well it’s all just one set of testimonies against another’ riff is that you have to consider what the pressure is for people to lie: and clearly, if your background is conservative religious, then there’s far more pressure to say ‘Hallelujah, I am post-gay’ than there is to say ‘well, sorry mum, that didn’t work — will you still pay for my university education?’.  I suspect there are a very few people whose sexualities do actually change (whether that’s due to religion or just the vagaries of wiring is another matter) — but to build a whole movement on that is like saying ‘Women! – Mary Portas is now doing a woman, you too can be a lesbian if you come on our special prayer course’. 

    • But Sarah, there is plenty of evidence that people’s sexuality can change with time. The problem is that noone can prove, to the satisfaction of those who disagree with them, what causes homosexual orientation, and what changes it.

      •  Why then do both Peter Ould and Anglican Mainstream rely so much on one very small, very weak study?  And you don’t address my point about the pressure to lie, or more charitably, deceive yourself – I imagine that we can both agree that one of the outcomes of ex-gay therapy is to make people who haven’t changed pretend they have.

        • It think that that study was as much a defence of reparative therapy (showing that there were no statistically significant evidnec of ill effects) as a “proof” that homosexuality is susceptible to their therapy. 

          Here’s a “secular” study that shows people’s sexuality changing – but with no study of why – just speculation that it mioght be down to “lack of support for identity” (what else would anyone dare say?)  

        • Here’s another “secular” large scale study showing considerable fluidity – this time from New Zealand (a country where: “Attitudes to homosexual sex were much more tolerant than in either the US or the UK.”):


          In the full paper they discuss why: “The findings … revealed a surprising  degree of change over time. Ten percent of men, and nearly a quarter of women, reported same-sex attraction at any time[ie at least one at some point in their life – generally in teenage], but this nearly halved for current attraction at age 26.”

          “[But] the changes were not just in one direction. The instability was most marked for women, with a greater movement away from exclusively heterosexual attraction from age 21 to 26 than among men.”

  6. Although I wasn’t surprised that these ads were stopped by Boris, I am horrified by the level of animosity and vitriol aimed at Ex-Gay and Post-Gay people by folks who think of themselves as “broad-minded” and “tolerant”.  

    Is it now politically correct to hate, and openly despise, Post-Gay people?!

    • Dave, I would suggest that generally the public animosity is directed at the the mostly religious promoters of this kind of practice, NARTH, Anglican Mainstream, Exodus rather than the people who actually undergo it. Perhaps the animosity has been directed at some persons where they have become leaders or poster boys or girls for the movement especially if they get found out to be hypocrites. But I have never come across anyone who has been persecuted by the gay lobby because they have tried to change their sexuality. Is Peter Ould or Philip Cole persecuted by gay people?

      The article in yesterday’s Guardian gives Peter Toscano’s – shall we call it witness? – to his experience of gay-cure therapies. He says they give moral authority to bullies. 


      • I’m not sure about persecution (though you should read some of the hate email I get).

        But the Guardian article is a CLEAR example of discrimination. Will Robert Booth do a similar piece on someone who had the opposite experience to Peterson? As if…

        • You could exchange it with some of Dawkins’s :-)

          Are you suggesting that Robert Booth should not have published this till he found someone of the opposite experience with a story to tell? That’s all very well in principle – balanced reporting and all that – but it would bring journalism to a halt. Anyway you are suggesting there ARE two equally balanced sides to the issue of reparative therapy? Clearly the professional psychiatric bodies don’t think so.

          • I think some of the professional bodies demonstrate a bias in their statements.
            There are fundamentally two issues involved, namely does therapy work and does it cause harm. On both of these issues the vast maj of prof bodies demand high levels of evidence for one side and low for the others. For example, on the hypothesis that therapy works, what is demanded is proper longitudinal studies with control groups etc, and because these don’t exist (Jones & Yarhouse is the closest we got) the hypothesis is rejected. However, the hypothesis that therapy *doesn’t* work requires equally high standards, yet the prof bodies accept anecdotal self-selecting evidence to determine this. How is that possibly a neutral way of assessing therapy?
            The same goes for harm. The *only* proper controlled study of those going thru therapy looking at harm is J&Y, but prof bodies instead rely on self-selecting anecdotal evidence.
            As for the Guardian, yes, I believe the appropriate fair thing to do would have been to have two stories side by side.

            • “However, the hypothesis that therapy *doesn’t* work
              requires equally high standards…”

              Well that’s one way of looking at it, but it certainly isn’t
              the scientific approach.

              If it is claimed, to take a few examples, that illness can
              be cured by reading “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” and
              meditating on what you read, or by having a spiritualist medium wave her hands
              soothingly around your invisible aura, that imaginary lines between points of
              light in the sky determine or influence our characters and destinies, or that a
              change in sexual orientation can be engineered, it is up to those who make the
              claim to provide the evidence to substantiate it, and it needs to be evidence
              that will withstand scrutiny. There is no burden of disproof resting on those
              who disbelieve the claim.

              • But that’s not a correct analogy. One can argue that if a study that is “pro” hasn’t taken place then there is no proof that it does work, but without a study *disproving* the claim, one cannot claim that is doesn’t work, merely that no-one has proved that it does work. The point is this – the psych organisations do not claim that there is no proof it doesn’t work (which would then lead them surely to explain why J&Y doesn’t show what it claims to show. Rather, they claim that it *doesn’t* work, but to make that claim they need to have a study that shows it doesn’t work.
                To summarise, there are three positions:

                i) Clinical evidence that a therapy DOES work
                ii) Clinical evidence that it DOESN’T work
                iii) No Clinical evidence to decide either way.

                The psych organisations are claiming (ii) whereas the actual position should be (iii) (or possibly even (i) though I expect we would disagree about that).

                Do you see?

           Very sorry to hear about the hate mail Peter, but liberal blogs (recall the homophobic abuse on Kelvin’s blog?) face that too.  Ultimately “post-gay” (for religious reasons) and “happily gay” can co-exist, whereas it is not alarmist to view that positing homosexuality as a disease with a cure (which positing “ex-gay” as a potential norm does) is not just another benign.


      • Hmm, my point was that an advert was banned that didn’t say anything negative about Gay people – it just pointed out that people can be Post-Gay!!

        I suppose it was actually banned because it opposed the revolution.  As people who have come out of homosexual behaviour have been complaining for some time, they are not listened to.

        Liberals thrust Post-Gay into the closet or vilify Post-Gay people because they show that, whatever sexual orientation we have, sexual behaviour is a choice – and homosexual relationships are not necessarily the best choice!!  So Post Gay is the new “love that must not speak it’s name”!!  

        As Uganda goes I don’t know anyone who thionks that persecution gay people is right!!  What amazes me is how liberals are so bigiotted against Christians that they somehow assume that we support the idea!  And how liberals are at the same time complete hypocrites – hardly even wringing their hands about the actual persecution and murder of hundreds or thousands of Christians in Nigeria, Iraq, North Korea etc etc.

        •  No, they don’t. As example, a few years ago I recall Peter and Kelvin Holdsworth (ww.thurible.net) discussing on a blog the whole origin of homosexuality and Peter’s post-gay identity. Kelvin, I hope not surprisingly, said it doesn’t actually matter if we can prove if people are  “born” gay and also that he respects Peter’s decision. In contrast, the conservative has a problem with “actively” gay priests. Can you point me to some examples of the post-gay “persecution” ? Where are the campagins to deprive post-gays of equal rights (and indeed rites)? Where are the spates of abuse that leads to post-gays commiting suicide?

           I know that some”post-gay” proponents (not Peter) think they’re being very cutting-edge, but, as a I said on the “Post-Gay FAQ” blog, much of what you’re saying has similarities with points made within Queer Theory 30 years ago! I mean, seriously, have you not noticed that the current group-label is LGBTQ? Which is to say that it INCLUDES “questioning” and non-gay (bisexual) identities? I’d say that compares favourably to the demonisation of gay people (c.f. the guff on presumed fisting-and-drugs-all-the-time “gay lifestyle” that gets spouted by some commentators even on this fine, debate-elevating blog)

           Does GAFCON et all not elevate African expressions of Christianity as the norm? I used to go to an evangelical church, and I can think of precisely zero occasions where anti-LGBT violence over there was concerned. You (not necessarily you personally) can’t bang on all the time about the global majority and the growth of the Church in places with Uganda, refuse to condemn anti-LGBT violence there, and then claim that liberals should of course see that you’re opposing such violence. Actions speak louders, and not speaking up because you don’t want to upset your fellow “conservatives” surely deserves moral condemnation.

  7. I have no truck with ‘Anglican Mainstream’ who are simply not who they claim to be but instead a classic US culture wars campaigning organisation obsessed with homosexuality and other ‘hot button’ issues. I do think however that folk have fallen for their quite obvious trap hook, line and sinker. Their ‘ad campaign’ (if you can apply this term to 6 buses) was quite blatantly aimed at Stonewall’s ‘Get Over it!’ campaign. It has produced exactly the reaction that I suspect they wanted …

    1. The rather nasty Anglican Mainstream get to play the ‘Christian victim’ card that they love. They also get lots of free publicity out of all proportion to the cost of the deposits that they may have lost trying to book ads on 6 buses.2. They get to claim, quite rightly in this case, that their free speech rights have been deplorably trampled upon.3. For an encore that buffoon Boris Johnson gets to parade his progressive credentials, if it’s possible to imagine such a thing!

    Way to go Stonewall! Great bit of foot-shooting! Much as I deplore their approach, I honestly hadn’t realised that Anglican Mainstream had such campaigning savvy …

    • Hello Philip, There is an article in the Guardian today about the terrors of being gay and Christian in Nigeria.


      When we read stuff like this it makes me despair that the people at Anglican Mainstream have nothing better to do than to spend their waking minutes hounding homosexuals. It is tempting to think that their own defences against same-sex activity are really so paper-thin that they can only turn their rage outwards onto those who have come to terms with the hand life has dealt them…but let me not not indulge too much in cod-psychology. The truth is no one knows why some people are bugged with homophobia whilst others can live at ease with the existence of gay people. The problem always is that when religion gets into the mix motives get extremely muddled and muddied. I have just been reading a review of Jacob Milgrom’s magisterial analysis of Leviticus 17-22 (the second levitical volume in the series of Anchor Bible Commentaries) and according to his expert opinion the proscriptions against homosexuality in what may be seen as the Bible’s “foundational statements” about same-sex activity have been misapplied to non-Jews to whom they did not apply outside the Holy Land. It is so interesting I think I am going to shell out the shekels for it. (I am aware Gagnon did not like this bit though he loved everything else Milgrom says – but then it basically undermines a huge tranch if not all of his life-work.) 

      (And before anyone mentions Paul, I have just received a copy of Hyam Maccoby’s The Mythmaker: Paul’s Invention of Christianity. According to him Paul was probably never a Pharisee and perhaps not even born a Jew but was a proselyte who got himself circumcised but found the Torah just too difficult. I am probably doing Maccoby an injustice in my bald summary of his position because I have only just started reading but personally I believe scholar-Jews have something valuable to say about their own religion and the way it was transformed into the new movement after Paul. The big question Maccoby asks is would Jesus recognise himself and his teaching after Paul’s influence?)

  8. If there one thing the Gay lobby hate more than those that disagree with them then it is those individuals  who have changed their sexuality  from homosexual to heterosexual and are happy with it.  Such people drive a coach and horses through the central arguments  that organisations like Stonewall make. They need to be silenced at all costs.

    What upsets Stonewall is that the adverts have the temerity to suggest that homosexuality can be changed – not that all homosexuals  will change-or indeed will want to,   but the fact that it can be changed. This makes it a fundamentally  different proposition than say the colour of your skin, which is unquestionably  a genetically ‘given’  innate characteristic.

    • There’s no evidence for change beyond the unsupported claims of those who maintain they’ve been changed and one dubious study that basically says:

      “If these guys are telling the truth then change is possible, but we don’t know if they really are telling the truth because we can’t independently monitor every aspect of their behaviour over the next decade or so.

      Of course these men have no reason to lie because their churches and wives and communities just love gays, so we can safely assume they’re being truthful because what negative consequences could there possibly be if they told another story?

      Luckily everything they say fits neatly with our preconceived notions anyway and because the Bible is on our side we must be right, so let’s publish without further ado and sit back and wait for the plaudits to flow in.

      Shall we book our tickets to Stockholm today or would it be better form to wait for the Nobel committee to make the announcement first?”

      • I take it from those comments you haven’t *actually* read any of the relevant papers, because your stereotyping and assumptions (yet again) of what those you are opposed to might think (as opposed to what they actually think as evidenced by their writing) is just highly amusing.

        At some point you’ll realise that you are just engaging in exactly the same behaviour you claim to be criticising.

    • Like they used to claim that 6% – 10% of the population was gay until New Labour left office and the real figures were seen to be about 1.5% – 2.5%!  Well only find out the *truth* only after the “culture war” is over..

    •  If there are far,far more ex-ex gays then ex-gays then what you perceive to be Stonewall’s ideological basis remains broadly true, does it not? And you’ll note that they also provide support to bisexual people. I’m pretty sure that someone wouldn’t get kicked out of stonewall for moving from “gay” to “bisexual”, self-identification wise, which negates rather the notion that they are opposed to demonstrable evidence of sexual fluidity.
        Does even the most conservative-supporting study not show that MOST people do not change their sexuality, let alone (1 point on the Kinsey scale indeed) move from fully gay to fully straight? As such, do stonewall’s statements not accord with the vast, overwhelming majority of real life testimonial evidence (or “evidence”)?

  9. Uh huh, I’ve read the studies. And laughed at their risible findings, poor methodology and preconceived outcomes.

    I’m all for taking serious studies seriously. But there are none on the ex/post/whatever gay side. It’s all about proving the Bible right and that’s just bad science. When you start with a preconceived outcome your study is invalid from the get-go.

  10. Of course I’ve read Jones and Yarhouse. Drivel from start to finish that’s been plucked, roasted and eaten for dinner by all serious reviewers.

    They started with a preconceived idea that homosexuality is sinful and then proceeded to compile only the evidence that supported that. The eye-popping claims about gerbilling should be evidence enough that nothing they say can be taken seriously.

  11. Here’s one example from a review by Jeramy Townsley
    “…their use of the Manosevitz study is problematic (p. 57).  Jones and Yarhouse seem to imply that childhood sexual behavior (CSB) was a causative agent in a person later becoming homosexual.  However, Manosevitz makes the opposite conclusion: that sexual orientation determines the choice of gender for CSB. While Jones and Yarhouse correctly state that 25% of the homosexual men engaged in CSB with other male children from age 5-9, and 43% from age 10-12, while no heterosexual men reported CSB with male children when they were 5-9, they leave out the statistics that 18% of heterosexual men report CSB with females from 5-9, 23% from age 10-12, 10% of heterosexual men report CSB with other males from 10-12, and 14% of both homosexual and heterosexual men report CSB with both genders.  If we assume that these sampling distributions can be approximated by a normal distribution (nHMS=28, nHTS=22), then there is probably no statistical difference between the amount of CSB of heterosexual men with opposite-gendered children and the amount of CSB of homosexual men with same-gendered children (for 5-9 yrs, z=0.6; for 10-12 yrs, z=1.5).  This lends itself to the interpretation given by the authors of the [Manosevitz]–that childhood sexual orientation determines the choice for gender of CSB, not the other way around. ”

    In other words, Jones and Yarhouse twist and selectively quote the findings of other studies to support their preconceived notions. This isn’t science, it’s propaganda. 

  12. Here’s another quote from the same review:

    “Using the example of the 1973 action by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), the authors assert that mental health organizations’ affirmations about the good mental health of homosexuals may not rest on scientific findings, but on external political and social pressure (p. 97-98).  However, they fail to report the  positions by various other professional organizations negating the view that homosexuality is pathological: American Psychoanalytic Association, American Psychological Association; American Psychiatric Association, American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, National Association of Social Workers, American School Counselor Association, et al (see below for references). 

    The authors cite a single 1993 study to support their position that mental health care workers disagree with the position of their professional organizations about the general mental health of homosexuals. However, the study, organized by the APA’s Office of International Affairs, reports the opinions of psychiatrists in other countries, not of those in the United States. Aside from the difficult issue of cross-cultural interpretations of psychopathology, this study sheds little light on the status of American professional views of the mental health of homosexuals in this country. Jones and Yarhouse fail to report several other studies that contradict their assertions that mental health professionals tend toward a psychological health model of homosexuality, not one of psychopathology.”

    Jones and Yarhouse quote the few studies and reports that back up their preconceived notions and completely ignore the vast bulk of research out there that flatly contradicts them. Again, this is not science. It’s PROPAGANDA.

  13. And a third excerpt:

    “Jones and Yarhouse invoke other authors to support their position of the inherently flawed mental health state of homosexuals (p. 102-105).  While again there is little contention that there are higher rates of certain psychopathologies among homosexuals, their use of Saghir and Robins is a poor choice to prove this.  They spend several pages exploring the fact that not only did they choose a homosexual population that excluded subjects who had been hospitalized for psychiatric reasons, but that the homosexual rates of psychopathology were still higher than national averages when compared to a standard sourcebook by Robins  and Regier (RR, 1990).  However, in making this comparison, they fail to mention an important piece of data which seems to border on a fraudulent presentation: Saghir and Robins included an heterosexual control group in their study, matched for several variables (including exclusion of former psychiatric patients) and that this control group had fairly identical rates of psychopathology as the homosexual group in all areas except alcohol abuse. ”

    Note the wording here: “border(s) on a fraudulent presentation”

    I’ll say it one more time: this isn’t science. Propaganda. Propaganda of North Korean audacity.

    • Jones and Yarhouse invoke other authors to support their position of the inherently flawed mental health state of homosexuals.

      I don’t think Jones and Yarhouse EVER argue that homosexuals have an “inherently flawed mental health state”. This is what you think they are trying to demonstrate, whereas the reality is that J&Y are constantly challenging such assumptions and trying to go where the science takes them.
      The longitudinal study was specifically designed to answer the question “Do some people change through therapy” without relying on anecdotes. Jones and Yarhouse were very open to the idea that the answer might be “no”.

      • Here’s a quote from an NY Times article on the subject of therapists who help gay religious people stay in the closet. It doesn’t deal directly with the study in question, but it certainly informs the motives behind it and the subsequent realisation of at least some of the people involved in attempts to change gay people that change is a myth.

        “Throckmorton and Yarhouse are each heterosexual evangelical Christians:
        Yarhouse teaches at Regent University, a school founded by Pat
        Robertson; Throckmorton at Grove City College, another Christian
        institution, just north of Pittsburgh. They were convinced that sexual
        orientation could be changed and tried to help their clients in that
        pursuit. Throckmorton accepted an award from Narth in 2002 for his
        support of the “ex-gay” movement, and in 2004 he made a video called “I
        Do Exist,” in which five people declared they changed their sexual

        But unlike many of their evangelical colleagues, Yarhouse and
        Throckmorton reconsidered their positions. A pensive, soft-spoken man,
        Throckmorton still reveals anguish when he speaks of those who
        proclaimed their conversion worldwide in “I Do Exist” but later
        recanted. “What I came to find out was those people felt the pressure of
        the social contract and said they had completely changed when they had
        not,” Throckmorton said. “They were in my tradition, so I trusted them.
        If they said they’d changed, why would I doubt them? That was sloppy
        scientifically, and I regret that.” He had been too caught up in the
        politics, he said, and assumed that the condemnation of conversion
        therapy was really an effort to undermine religion.”

        Full article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/19/magazine/therapists-who-help-people-stay-in-the-closet.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2

  14. There is something fundamentally negative and repressive about suggesting that those who have chosen to live a homosexual lifestyle should welcome a propaganda campaign suggesting they can ‘heal’ themselves. It portrays homosexuality as inherently wrong or at least ‘second-best’ to being straight. It also implies, entirely wrongly, that significant numbers may have ‘allowed themselves’ to somehow be ‘persuaded’ to choose a homosexual lifestyle, and that it was a wrong decision.
    I don’t know where people like Mike Davidson or Peter Ould grew up to acquire this unreal notion of sexuality in general, or homosexuality in particular as some kind of easy choice that we make.
    I have no doubt that there are many many people, like me, who are genuinely Bisexual who have happily chosen to live as gay. Just as I am sure there are many others who have decided, in practice, to live a heterosexual lifestyle. But there are many for whom their sexuality and identity is exclusively gay and always will be.
    Allowing oneself to be gay, to be honest to that identity, is STILL one of the hardest things to do even in the 21st century and even in a place such as the UK, and even in its capital city – believe me, I know it as someone who lives it.
    The idea that any of us need ‘saving’ from being Gay is so unpleasantly oppressive, anti-democratic and anti-human that it is the purveyors of this nasty idea we need saving from. Goodness knows the children of Peter Ould have my sympathy.

  15. Peter – may I give you 2 stars for your use of statistics. The Jones and Yarhouse study gives a 15% success rate for those who overcome unwanted homosexual feelings and develop heterosexual feelings. The same report gives a much higher percentage (around 40%) for those who have overcome unwanted homosexual feelings but, as yet, have not developed heterosexual feelings. This group had no sexual desires for either men or women. In both groups the definition of success also did not exclude the person having homosexual feelings – something that appears to have been ignored by huge numbers of people – but states that when those feelings come that they do not cause distress to the person, cause them to doubt their healing or cause them to want to act on those feelings. The reliance of success being on gaining heterosexual feelings is the same mistake the pro-gay lobby falls into – I know as I had a meal with Michael King who told me I had not been healed of homosexuality because I was not married!

    As to the issue of British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy – I can not comment about the action against Lesley Pilkington though I believe the BACP chose not to hear Dean Byrd (of Narth and Evergreen) professor at University of Utah School of Medicine (who sadly died of cancer earlier this month). If this is true this is a major shame as I know that when Dr Jospeh Nicolosi came over last he was interviewed by the BBC and other media channels and did not come across that well while Dr Byrd appears to have been more savey having been used as an expert witness a number of times. I also know that I and others were interviewed for the 2009 article “The Gay Cure” (http://www.therapytoday.net/article/show/1168/) and provided them with the Spitzer report and also the Jones + Yarhouse report. These were ignored, just as they were ignored by the BMA and the Royal College of Psychiatrists. As yet sexual orientation change efforts have not had a fair hearing in the UK and any evidence is ignored.

    I also agree with you about the lack of ex-gay quotes. Like you I am available for interview (and have done a number of interviews) about this type of therapy – especially as a counsellor and life coach I work in this area from a non-religious basis (unlike CORE Issues which is specifically a Christian organisation). I have an idea why neither you and I were asked by AM for quotes. Both of us have been critical of Anglican Mainstream and the way they operate (I walked away from AM events because 1) They want to start a therapy network that excludes anyone that is not from a classic Judeo-Christian position (including Muslims and Mormons) and 2) one of the officers suggested to Stephen Green of Christian Voice that I should work with him and when I refused told me that they were disappointed because Mr Green is one of the only people who cares enough about the direction the UK is going to do something about it. In your case – shock horro – you are a friend of Andrew Marin. So despite our experience they can not have people like us involved with their campaign can they!

  16. I was appalled to read this item yesterday.


    I cannot believe the arrogance of these people!  That so-called ‘professionals’ refuse to allow clients to decide what is best for themselves and to give them the help they need beggars belief:

    .1 Section 1 of UKCP Ethics Code: Best Interests of Client
    1.1 The psychotherapist takes responsibility for respecting their client’s best interests when providing therapy.
    a. Research has shown that offering, or agreeing to the client’s request for, therapy for the reduction of same sex attraction is not in a client’s best interests. (Drescher, Shidlow and Schroeder, 2002).

    b. An ethical response to a request by a client for psychotherapy to reduce same sex attraction would be to establish a clear contract with the client regarding the nature of psychotherapy as a process rather than an outcome, and to share with the client basic information on the findings of research on therapy that aims to change or reduce same sex attraction, which is that research does not suggest this therapy is effective, although sometimes limited effect has been reported. There is overwhelming evidence that undergoing such therapy is at considerable emotional and psychological cost.

  17. Why does it beggar belief, Jill? A physician, psychotherapist
    or any other kind of health practitioner may have, and should have, principles
    which he or she cannot in good conscience violate. As the Chair of the UKCP
    said recently on the radio, a psychotherapist does not have an obligation to do
    whatever a client demands. This should be obvious if we think about it
    intelligently. A responsible doctor or dietician will not go along with an
    emaciated anorexic’s belief that she is still too fat and give her the help
    that she needs to lose further weight. A responsible physician will not respect
    a physically healthy hypochondriac’s belief that he has cancer and arrange for
    him to have the supposedly needed surgery or chemotherapy. Similarly, it would
    not be ethical for a psychiatrist or psychotherapist, who knows that homosexuality
    is not an illness in need of a cure and that attempts to change it are at best
    highly unlikely to succeed and can be damaging, to act as though he or she
    thought otherwise.

    • I’d come back to you with two questions.

      i) Is your first point implying you agree that Gary McFarlane should have the right to refuse sex counselling to gay couples?
      ii) You write “it would not be ethical for a psychiatrist or psychotherapist, who knows that homosexuality is not an illness in need of a cure and that attempts to change it are *at best highly unlikely to succeed and can be damaging*”. Isn’t the issue here that the evidence for this statement (especially the second half) is not as clear cut as the organisations would like to make out? I repeat what I wrote in reply to Blair – there is NO clinical evidence proving harm or that therapy does not work, simply an absence of perfect evidence that it does.

      • (i) If Gary McFarlane had been an independent, self-employed counsellor, then my answer would have been yes. However, he was not; he was working for Relate and therefore should have complied with its policies. That said, I certainly wouldn’t want to receive counselling myself from someone who believed that gay relationships were wrong. 
        (ii) On this point some would modify your last sentence and say that there is simply an absence of credible evidence that it works. As to whether it is harmful, I don’t see how we are ever going to have evidence which is not anecdotal, and that we therefore have to go on the best evidence available. Isn’t the evidence that child sexual abuse is harmful anecdotal? Yet few people, I think, except perhaps for some   paedophiles, would dismiss it on that account.      

          • I’ve read two of the abstracts, but when I click on the third, a warning comes up saying that “This kind of file can damage your computer.” No matter. I cannot profess to doubt the validity of the evidence on this point, but is not this academic research itself based on anecdotal evidence?

            • In some senses yes, but that just pushes us back to ask why the anecdotal evidence of those for whom therapy was a success is discounted but that for those who claim harm isn’t?

              I’m really just pointing out the issues around claiming “proof”.

              • Absolute proof is, of course, impossible outside the realm of pure logic. As for anecdotal evidence, I think that we have to accept that in some fields it is the only kind of evidence that we are going to get, and that we have to observe and generalize on the basis of it as best we can. For instance, I am sure you would agree with me that it would be absolutely wicked and inexcusable deliberately to abuse children or anyone else, sexually or otherwise, in order that a controlled clinical experiment might be set up.

                I can see one a priori reason why it might be more justifiable to view claims of change in sexual orientation at least more sceptically than claims of harm. It is understandable that people who desperately want their sexual orientation to change will want to claim, and to convince themselves, that such change really has occurred. And we cannot reasonably ignore the numerous instances of ex-gay ministry leaders who once claimed that this had happened to them and later admitted that their alleged change was simply self-deception – e.g. Michael Bussee, Jeremy Marks, Frank Shears, Raphael Creemers, Guenter Baum, Jeff Ford, Paul Martin, John Smid, to name a few – and that none of the clients of their ministries changed their sexual orientation either.

                Dr Douglas C. Haldeman, in his paper “Therapeutic Antidotes: Helping Gay and Bisexual Men Recover from Conversion Therapies”, which he says is based on 20 years clinical practice with men who have undergone forms of conversion therapy, specifies the following as common effects of such therapy: depression and guilt, intimacy avoidance, sexual dysfunction and injury to male identity image. I can’t seriously envisage a motive for people wanting to delude themselves or to convince others that they have suffered these things if they haven’t really. You can’t, of course, rigorously prove that these things are actually caused by their having undergone conversion therapy, but then one could say exactly the same, if one insisted, about the alleged repercussions of child sexual abuse.

                • Will,

                  This is the paper you cite – http://www.drdoughaldeman.com/doc/TherapeuticAntidotes.pdf. You can see from reading it that it doesn’t actual provide anything more than a series of anecdotes. One would want to ask some more rigorous questions, like would the reported feelings reported after therapy have been present in the person if they hadn’t done therapy? For example, the story of “Bill” under “Spirituality and Religion” doesn’t really suggest any harm from therapy, rather that it was something he did before he then decided to identify as gay. Jim’s story presents no actual hard evidence that his sexual dysfunction was linked to his therapy, just that because he wasn’t sexually active before his therapy his therapy preceded his sexual activity.

                  Do you see the point?

                  And don’t get me wrong – I am perfectly open to proper research on the harm from therapy. It was reading that kind of stuff that helped shift my position from “everybody should do therapy”. I just want to hold claims for “harm” to the same high standards as other research.

                  • O.K. Then how do you think that research into possible harm from therapy ought to be carried out in order to obtain evidence (if there is any) which is not anecdotal? Incidentally, I am inclined to doubt that conversion therapy itself causes harm in the sense of initiating it: I think that it is more likely to exacerbate, possibly to a dangerous extent, harm that has already been done.

  18. Jill, there’s a difference between “need” and “want”, and, ethically speaking, it’s wrong to make promises of therapy that can’t be sustained in reality. I’m sure lots of people would love to be ‘cured’ of having a Personality Disorder, for example, but that wouldn’t alter the fact that a therapist who promised some kind of quick cure (for the right price) would be just another snake-oil salesmen.

    NB I was disappointed that you simply ignored Peter’s question when, in regard to the Cameron paper, he asked if you concede that the statement about gay people dying twenty years earlier (!). Given that you like to paint yourself as normal and representative of both the orthodox christian and man-on-the-street ideology as regards homosexuality this is troubling, as is the fact that you’ve repeatedly had a go at Peter for pointing out innacurate statements made by Anglican Mainstream or the like (does your Bible not have the stuff about bearing false witness? :-))

    • Yes, cerebusboy, you’re absolutely right. You can’t justify something solely on the ground that it’s offering something that people want. After all, what competent, self-respecting con man comes up with a scheme offering something that no-one is going to want? If you’re on trial for running a boiler room scam, I don’t think that the court will accept the defence that people *want* a way of investing their money to make a quick buck.

    • As to people dying 20 years earlier, I don’t see the point here.  I had a friend and colleague in the 1980s who certainly died horribly 20 years or more before his time from AIDS, as did his long-term partner, a year or two later.  Quibbling over stats which could be knocked out of the water at any time seems a bit pointless, as we all know that it is perfectly true that practising homosexual men are far more likely to become ill or die, or be on what amounts to life-support with antiretrovirals for years.  Viruses are notorious for becoming resistant to drugs and coming back with a vengeance.  http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn3460-superbug-strain-hits-the-healthy.html

      Rather than fannying around picking holes in information gathered, even if it is a trifle flawed for whatever reason, I think we should be issuing health warnings.  Methodology is better than it used to be, across the board.

      • I’m sorry Jill, but that’s a cop-out. Are you presenting one anecdote to counter the large body of research that I’ve indicated shows that gay men live not 20 years less then straight men but more like only 5 or 6 years? Do you accept that Cameron’s results were flawed because he failed to take into account the particualr nature of the first cohort of men who entered gay marriage in Norway / Denmark?

        Let me make this simple. Do you believe that, on average, gay men die twenty years younger then straight men? Yes or no?

        • Some alcoholics die sooner than other alcoholics, but this doesn’t make alcoholism a desirable trait, and I don’t suppose you would waste your time trying to prove statistics on alcohol-related deaths wrong.

          • Jill,

            Do you not realise that your failure to answer a simple question is telling? Can you not understand that this is exactly the reason why Mainstream is losing support now even amongst conservative evangelicals?
            If you have some research on alcoholism related deaths I’m more then happy to comment on them for you, but that won’t divert us from the simple fact that you’re ducking the issue on age at death for gay men.
            Sent from my iPad

            • I haven’t the foggiest idea whether Cameron is right or not.  I don’t do statistics.  Numbers make my brain hurt.  All I know is that the facts all point in the same direction, so why quibble?

              Where is your evidence that AM is losing support among conservative evangelicals? :)  Anecdotal, no doubt.

              •  lol! Numbers make your brain hurt but you’re confident that the “facts” point in a particular direction eh? That’s a pretty shoddy evidential (!) basis to use to condemn gay people.

                 As for AM, Philip, elsewhere on this site, has expressed his dismay with what is essentially a culture war propoganda machine first and anything else a distant second. Is he a “liberal” too?

                 As a liberal, it is if of course deeply cheering to find some conservatives claiming that they don’t actually care whether gay people die 20 years earlier or not, they’re just going to believe in nasty stereotypes, analogus to the racist who “feels” that blacks are inherently inferior, or the antisemite who “just knows” that teh Jews control the media.

                 More broadly speaking Jill, there’s many times when you’ve referred to yourself as represenative of the normal Moral Majority. Isn’t that just a tiny bit solipsistic? No offence, but I’m genuinely astonished that, in the year of Our Lord 2012, someone can be so (wilfully?) naive that they regard things like anal sex and pornography as “gay lifestyle” problems rather than fallen male ones. I recall you defending the conferece that, according to Peter’s account, features slides of male-male female double penetration, as showing the horrors of the “gay lifestyle”. Again, no offence, but isn’t positing a HETEROSEXUAL sex act (which said act is; gay men do not tend to have an interest in penetrating women) as proof (!) of the evils of the gay lifestyle (!) more than a little ridiculously and indicative of a wider problem of perception?

                • Ryan, I may not be good with numbers, but I can read!  I can also read statistics (provided by others) that of the £1 billion per annum spent on STIs in the UK, almost half goes on HIV/AIDS in men who have sex with men, ie on around 1% of the population. 

                  You might think this is okay, but I don’t.  I think that the Stonewall initiative of gulling the public into regarding homosexual practice as normal and healthy is downright wicked.  The soaring of HIV/AIDS rates over the last decade is evidence of this.  The real homophobes, in my view, are the people who think it is okay to draw people into this horrible cycle of despair.

                  As to Philip’s remarks, sorry, but anecdotal evidence will not do.  I need statistics (peer-reviewed, of course).

                  PS: Only teasing!

                  •  Jill,
                     You’re not comparing like with like. Compare being an HIV positive man today to the “We die, they do nothing” holocaust of late 70s and Reaganite America.  Given Our Lord’s care for the sick, it’s morally troubling that you appear to regard spending a lot of money on treating diseases as not ok. The alternative is what exactly? Letting people die of AIDS because they “deserve” it? I wouldn’t, irrespective of one’s views on gay sex, call that an “ethic” that reflects well on the H.C.F.

                     The Christian might prefer that nobody ever have gay sex (or fornicate). Human nature is fallen however. Does the evidence not suggest that educating people about condoms and providing treatment for those HIV works far, far better than just saying “dont’ have gay sex”? Oh and you seem to think that all gay people have the sort of sex that leads to HIV/AIDS i.e. anal. That is obvious nonsense.

                     Stonewall is not an organisation that tries to encourage people to have gay sex (!).  It deals and challenges descrimination and bullying. It is a good thing that people no longer get fired for being gay (do you, serious question, really want to turn the clock back to those days?). I’d also say that “ex-gays”, rather than being persecuted by gays, would face more prejudice from those disgusted by any incident of same-sex sex (c.f. Portillo running for the leadership of the Tory Party).

                     Don’t know about yours, but my evangelical church is full of nice middle-class MDs. I suggest you ask one about how difficult it is to catch HIV.

                     Fact: “being gay” does not equal “having risky anal sex that usually lead to HIV/AIDS” . Most gay people get from gay sex what straight people get from the (non-procreational of course!) kind. That makes it hard to take serious screeds on the supposed *intrinsic* evils of “homosexual practise” (does the fact that the best your team can do is Cameron not, in fact, speak volumes? NB the “best” anti-anal sex paper of recent years counted flatulence as “incontinence” – ! – which is clearly nonsense).


                    •  Also define “normal” in a useful sense.  Most men masturbate and most people do not leave sex to marriage, so I’m not sure that trying to build a presumed consensus does your side any favours. 

                        In terms of the impact on people’s lives (unwanted pregnancy, potential abortion, commitment to 18 years of child support that may involve significant life upheaval etc) the consequences of unprotected recreational HETEROSEXUAL sex (the logical analogy) are surely as great than those of homosexual sex.

                • Erm – Tom, I don’t know how to break it to you, but Anglican Mainstream has *never* had the support of Changing Attitude!

                  Seriously, though, the conference was not about Anglican Mainstream, it was about churches supporting same-sex attracted people.  It was hardly going to get a good review from somebody who came along for the sole purpose of rubbishing it.  That is far from the only point of view from those who were there.  People don’t come to events for a variety of reasons – one of them being fear, as previous conferences have attracted protests from gay activists, who can be very intimidating.

                  So really, I don’t think that is a very good yardstick.  You will have to try harder than that.

                  •  Ah, wasn’t that the same conference that Peter blogged on and criticised? Is he a liberal too?

                     I recall that you defended the following :

                     “She [Nolland] distributed several ‘information’ sheets including a list of the
                    most popular acts advertised and depicted on the internet such as
                    ‘double anal’ in which ‘a woman is penetrated anally by two men at the
                    same time’”

                    by saying that it shows the horrrors of the “gay lifestyle” that people are trying to escape (!) . Do you stand by that? Dare one say that if, your best scare-tactic methodology is to provide pornographic pictures of HETEROSEXUAL sex it is you, not Tom, that needs to try harder?

                     And of course, the problem you have with conflating the stereotypical “gay lifestyle” with homosexuality per se is that someone who is same-sex attracted but not fisting randoms all night and day – i.e. the overhwelming majority of gay people – can point out honestly that they are not immershed in this “gay lifestyle” and therefore don’t need any “help”. Perhaps another reason for the conference’s poor attendance? Sorry to break it to you, but every gay Christian I’ve known has been quite (if not more) monogomous as their hetero equivalent.

                     Truly, I’m really not sure what you think your team gains by assuming that any and all criticism of any particular conservative act or deed is mere propoganda from the headquarters of teh evil gay agenda.

                    • Yes Ryan, that is the point that Jill and her pals at AM don’t understand. They don’t realise that when you throw muck some of it may cling to your hand or even splatter back over you.  

                      Gareth Moore OP who was mentioned by Blair the other day gives advice in A Question of Truth which Anglican Mainstream could well listen to. He gives four main principles for church people on debating homosexuality; the fourth is “Argue with the best of homosexual practice, not with the worst. The church wants to show that homosexual practices are as such contrary to the will of God, and so contrary to human well-being, not simply that the worst excesses of homosexuality are contrary to human well-being.”  The fact that Lisa Nolland and AM at the conference dredged up the worst excesses  indicates that their visceral personal dislike overshadowed a theological objection, despite being cloaked  in god-talk.

                    • This is the same line of reasoning (argue only against your opponent’s best case) argued by Goddard and Walker in their booklet “True Union in the Body”

                  • I have read a few angry reactions to Keith Sharpe’s account of the last Anglican Mainstream conference. Quite apart from the markedly poor attendance, which has not been denied, not one of them has attempted to demonstrate any factual inaccuracy in his account.

          •  On a long enough timeline alcoholism will, if not treated, kill you. Do you make the same claim for homosexuality PER SE? Again, “being gay” does in no way equate to “has oodles of risky sex that will mean I die early of e.g. AIDS, probably at 40”

      •  If we’re playing the acquaintance game, you might wish to note that, in defiance of the “gay lifestyle” rhetoric you’re so fond of, that I know precicely zero gay men with a taste for fisting or corprophilia. And surely the fact that many people have gay friends is one reason why conservatives don’t do themselves any favours by invoking or at least failing to repudiate Cameron’s statistics?  Saying that gay men only live, on average, to forty-two is obvious nonsense. It is not “offensive” in the “contradicts PC dogma!” presumed sense, but in a “so obviously nonsensical that prejudice is one of the more compelling explanations for someone taking it seriously”.

         If you want to issue health warnings then they have to factually suported ones.  Otherwise, you run the risk of the “boy who cried wolf” phenomena, where (e.g.) teenagers who, knowing for a fact that most people who take one spliff do not turn into raving schizoprhenics, therefore assume that all other anti-drug ideology is similarly unfactual (to their great detriment of course; I’m merely describing a phenomena).

          “Fannying about”? It always tickles me when non-glasweigans speak the lingo, but I must say I found that surprisingly vaginatistical ;-)

  19. Yes, I do see, but I don’t think that that’s satisfactory way of looking at it. It hasn’t been proved that Christian Science healing or spirit healing never work, and I don’t see how it ever could be. And there are people who claim that these things have worked for *them*. (And you can find testimony for the efficacy of just about any other kind of fringe therapy that you care to think of if you look hard enough for it.) But I think that the scientific attitude is to assume that these things *don’t* work unless and until the evidence is strong enough to suppose otherwise.

    • That’s not the scientific method. The scientific method is to assume you don’t know what the answer is, formulate a hypothesis (normally either it *does* work or it *doesn’t* work) and then set up research / an experiment to test your hypothesis. If you haven’t tested something you can’t claim either way.

      • Well, it seems to me that the research so far indicates that it may just conceivably work in a very few cases, but that it generally doesn’t. A bit like Christian Science healing, for example.

  20. Anglican Mainstream have been using the Rev Lynda Rose to front their discussions in the media on this. I heard her on this morning’s Sunday Programme alongside Dr Mike Davison discussing the campaign with the Rev Colin Coward. She made the point that she was not abusing Colin when she quoted scripture to condemn his position. Then things got a tad more personal when she actually called him out as an inappropriate person (as an out gay man) in being a minister of the gospel as a priest of the Church of England. When I heard this I wondered why neither Colin nor the interviewer asked her if she knew that those very same scriptures (the unalterable word of God in her view when it comes to gays) command that women be silent in church and not be allowed positions of leadership and see that it makes her position as a priest about as untenable as she says Colin’s is.

    (She has been on Al Jezeera recently with Bishop Gene Robinson yet he like Colin was too polite to point out that the scriptures, read the way she does, don’t let her off the hook.)

    I wonder why Anglican Mainstream is using her in this. Don’t they realise that some of us not in the pews know as much or more about the Bible than she appears to and will catch the anomaly at once?

    • Listening to Ben Summerskill in an interview yesterday with Rev Lynda just creased me up!  He said (with all seriousness) that he too had been studying his bible … yes, really … and quoted the passage from 1 Corinthians 14 about women keeping silent in churches.  Someone had obviously primed him on this.

      I do hope that those Christians who claim to hold the centre ground (approving women’s ordination but not homosexuality) are taking note here.

      The thing is, Tom, that nowhere does the bible describe being a woman as being any more sinful than a man (someone correct me if I am wrong).  My own view on women clergy is well known by everyone who knows me (I am opposed, on theological grounds) but AM does not in fact hold a position on this issue, merely being strongly supportive of proper provision being made for opponents.  The Church of England, in its wisdom, has decided that women should be ordained … but this is another topic.

      Having said all this, I think the Rev Lynda is great!!  She was the one, people may remember, who was instrumental in the ousting of the ghastly Dr Death, Evan Harris, at the last election.  http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/8120903.GENERAL_ELECTION__Harris_attacks_leaflet__abuse_/

      • Jill, how did Lynda Rose respond to Summerskill’s question about the Pauline prohibition on women in church leadership? Love to know how she keeps both balls in the air (as it were). As I mentioned elsewhere I have just ordered Jacob Milgrom’s commentary on Leviticus 17-22 and I would have put it to her that he, the greatest living exponent of the Levitical text says this (in the abbreviated one volume edition. It’s worth reading in full but here is a sample:

        ‘Does the Bible Prohibit Homosexuality?
        Of course it does (18:22; 20:13), but the prohibition is severely limited. First, it is addressed only to Israel, not to other nations. Second, compliance with this law is a condition for residing in the Holy Land, but irrelevant outside it (see closing exhortation, 18:24-30). Third, it is limited to men; lesbianism is not prohibited. Thus it is incorrect to apply this prohibition on a universal scale.
        Moreover, as pointed out by my erstwhile student, Dr. David Stewart, both occurrences of the prohibition (18:22; 20:13) contain the phrase “as one lies with a woman” (lit. “lyings a woman”), an idiom used only for illicit heterosexual unions. Thus one could argue that carnal relations are forbidden only if their correlated heterosexual would be in these lists. For example, the Bible lists the following prohibited relations: nephew-aunt, grandfather-granddaughter, and stepmother-stepson. Thus, according to this theory, nephew-uncle, grandfather-grandson, and stepfather-stepson are also forbidden. This implies that the homosexual prohibition does not cover all male-male liaisons, but only those within the limited circle of family. However, homosexual relations with unrelated males are neither prohibited nor penalized……….Thus, from the Bible, we can infer the following: the female half of the world’s homosexual population, lesbians, are not mentioned. Over ninety-nine percent of the remaining gays, namely non-Jews, are not addressed. This leaves the small number of Jewish gay subject to this prohibition. To those who argue that the Bible enjoins homosexuality, a careful reading of the source text offers a fundamentally different view. While the Bible never applauds homosexuality, neither does it prohibit most people from engaging in it.’

        If Lynda Rose wants to use Leviticus (erroneously) as unalterable doctrine she’d better be prepared to have a very convincing answer ready why she can be considered a Christian priest.

        Jill, it is not a question of sinfulness; there are many scholars, among them Mary Douglas (Purity and Danger) who do not consider the prohibitions of Leviticus are about sin at all but about purity in a ritual sense (like Christopher Robin, avoiding treading on cracks in the pavement). Ancient religions, among them Judaism and Hinduism have this concept of taboo which was supposed to be done away with in their daughter-religions, Christianity, Islam and Buddhism. The fact that they linger on is rather depressing, thus in Islam taboo is stronger than in Christianity. Nevertheless I understand that in the Greek Orthodox Church women are not supposed to approach communion during their menses. Last year in Northern Thailand at a stupa (sacred memorial mound over the relics of the Buddha) I was somewhat taken aback to read a notice at the foot of the staircase going to the top of the mound (and therefore above the relics) which said “Lady Don’t!” Even in benign Buddhism women are still discriminated against for their “unclean” bodily functions.

      • “The thing is, Tom, that nowhere does the bible describe being a woman as being any more sinful than a man (someone correct me if I am wrong). ”

        Actually, Jill, I thought it did, in the original story about Adam and Eve. Eve seems to come off worse……“To the woman He said: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16)

      •  Jill, do you rely deny that today’s current sexual ethic – elevating the recreational above the procreational, which is true even in evangelical circles – started with feminism and specifically the pill? It’s pretty silly to blame it on all teh gays when, to judge from your own statements, they apparently account for only 1% of the population i.e. a tiny minority! 

         And from a long enough time line – and the Vatican, say, is supposed to think in centuries – feminism very much is as contrary to traditional orthodox Christianity as gay-affirming liberalism. Without feminism there would be no abortion, which ought to be of more concern to the faithful than what consenting adults get up to in the bedroom. 


      • Hi Jill and all,

        this may prove nothing, I accept, but just a little footnote to your comment: Ben Summerskill is quoted on the back of Gareth Moore OP’s rigorously argumentative ‘A question of truth’ (London: Continuum, 2003). Goodness knows whether that means he’d read it all…. but maybe i could speculate that he is at least aware of some cogent, strong arguments against the ban on same-sex sex. 

        in friendship, Blair

        • (Smiles politely) Oh very droll, Tom.  Reading the first part of this brought to mind an article I read recently about why liberals don’t understand conservatives (which this guy plainly doesn’t):

          […]  liberals understand only two main moral dimensions, whereas conservatives
          understand all five.

          Liberals care about harm and suffering (appealing to our capacities for
          sympathy and nurturing) and fairness and injustice. All human cultures care
          about these two things but they also care about three other things: loyalty to
          the in-group, authority and the sacred.

          As Haidt puts it: ‘It’s as though conservatives can hear five octaves of
          music, but liberals respond to just two, within which they have become
          particularly discerning.’”



            •  Liberals don’t care about loyalty to the “in-group”? I thought that the push for gay marriage was the work of the (Elders of Zion style? ;)) liberal “elite” thinking they know better than the proles?

               As for “authority” – surely liberals giving less credence to a value is not the same thing as not being able to “understand” it? I think you’ll find that countries that place the highest value on The Family, or The State, or the Dear Leader tend to be oppresive (fascism, objectively speaking, places a high value on Authority, no?) whereas the British history of satire and parody- disrespecting of authority in all its forms - are (accurately?) taken as indicating the merits of our free society. Claiming that somebody doesn’t understand x because they disagree with one’s views on it is surely one of the oldest, and least convincing bad-debating tricks in the book (although I will of course concede that there may well be instances were particular statemetns or actions may indicate that someone does not understand a concept despite claiming to).

               Aside from which, conflating political and theological conservativism/liberalism is surely problematic. I’d imagine that many people who agree with everything you’ve written about homosexuality, Peter, still might not be quite on board with all the Tory party/ Republican party guff that’s been posted on here over the years (The weekend after we commemorate those who died at Hillsborough, you won’t find me celebrating either the “Authority” of  institutionally corrupt police forces or the prole-demonising Tory goverment of then – and now? -as particularly or even at all Christian.)

  21. And you seem to be defending atheism like an atheist – you do believe in God? Communists did (and do) persecute Christians precisely because they were atheists – Christians stood in the way of *materialistic progress*…

     Man alive. I appreciate that your love of exclamation marks does not, perhaps, bespeak a noble rhetoric but, seriously : “you sound like an athiest!!” ? Arguments should be judged on their merits; I’m a Christian, but that no more imbues my arguments with intrinsic logic than it does yours (argumentum ad verecundium much? :-))

       I note you ignored all my points about liberal democracy.  Is belief in “materialistic progress” a feature of atheism *per se*. No?  Totalatarian regimes are wrong because they are totalatarian; is atheism intrinsiclaly fascistic? I’d say ‘no’. And note also that some of the most repressive countries currently (c.f. the Middle East) are theocratic. We’re discussing systems of goverment, so please don’t accuse me of defending atheism (!) (should I also stick up for the Crusades because they were – nominally- “Christian”?)

  22.  “I’d also say that “NOT GAY!”” very much could be read as implying something negative about gay people. Can you imagine “GAY” being replaced by any other term describing a minority group and NOT being considered offensive? (“NOT JEW!” I’VE FOUND CHRIST AND ABANDONED THE TEMPLE – AND YOU CAN TOO!” etc )

    • Hmm, well if that’s all you are worried about then, presumably, you’d be happy for a slightly modified advert to appear?

      Anyway, one difference between sexuality and the inherent characteristics is that sexuality can and does change (evenwhen people don’t consciously try to change).  So there are some people who experience themselves as not gay any more, as well as Post-Gay people etc..

      Take that as negative if you want, but facts are facts

      •  Me personally? I think most people would say that NO [INSERT MINORITY GROUP NAME HERE]! is inappropriate language for a bus. Public transport is exactly that, and as such members of said minority group are liable to use such transport.  Anglican Mainstream types pretending to be free speech purists does crack me up. Nobody remember Section 28 around here?

         And? Private sexual behaviour is exactly that. Gay people should not have to produce the equivalent of doctor’s note “justifying” their sexuality to prevent persecution. NB I think most modern sociologists would say that, contrary to claims of a solid essentialism that contrasts rather with the “mere” behavioural choices of sexuality,  “Race” is to some extent a construct too.

        •  OOooo! So you agree that sexuality may be primarily socially constructed?!!

          That is, roughly, the conclusion of Bearman and Brückner who looked at twin studies to see what factors seemed to actually influence the likelihood of homosexuality. Social factors in childhood seem to predominate over genetic or foetal development factors… http://www.soc.duke.edu/~jmoody77/205a/ecp/bearman_bruckner_ajs.pdf

          It also accords with the results of Dickson et al – who noted that social influences seemed to very significantly affect the likelihood that people are aware of feeling same-sex attraction: http://www.mendeley.com/research/samesex-attraction-in-a-birth-cohort-prevalence-and-persistence-in-early-adulthood/

          That means we can expect more people to experience same-sex attractions and express them in their behaviour in future… and it also means that it’s not possible to just say sexuality is a “given” (and not a moral issue)! 

          • Don’t you believe it. No gay man I have ever met believes that. And several I know who are or were married (in the closet) say they always knew they were gay despite choosing to lead an outward heterosexual life and sire children. I personally think it is wrong to use women like that (certainly without their permission )but sometimes they have been told in advance and decide to go through with marriage.

            A few years ago there was a scandal when a Conservative MEP was caught with gay porn in his baggage at customs and it all came out that he had been in Amsterdam with his gay lover who had given him the video he featured in. The press camped outside his house and then he came out with his wife and daughter for a press conference. It turned out both wife and daughter knew all about it and said they recognised it was part of his nature which they accepted. The wife then handed round coffee to the gobsmacked journalists. I must say that lady had style….

          • I tried to get these two articles you gave links to but it seemed such a circular process that I have given up. Has anyone else downloaded them successfully (without having to pay)?

  23. In case you’re interested Peter, here’s the current situation in Belgium and Denmark (both about 10 years in to SSM?):
    Basically those are the possible positions the UK will end up in (sooner or later) under European HR law: either  religions will be obliged to offer SS marriage (though individual ministers should still be free to decline)
    or ONLY civil ceremonys will be legally effective (my preferred option – imagine all the problems over  paperwork, divorcees, scam marriages etc that would save!!).  

    David Cameron would do us all a favour to get it over with now, by responsibly legislating for  one or other option, rather than continuing the current, disingenuous, “death by 1000 cuts” process – which just continues the bad press for the churches, and risks promoting hatred towards religious groups.

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