Living Out denies support for gay cure therapy: 'Homosexuality is not an illness'

A support group for same-sex attracted Christians has hit back at claims it supports gay cure.

Sean Doherty, one of the leaders of Living Out, denied the accusations made by gay MP Mike Freer who labelled the charity "gay cure therapy rebranded".

Sean Doherty, a leader of Living Out, topped the General Synod election poll in the London diocese. He also teaches at the theological college, St Mellitus.Twitter

"Homosexuality is not an illness," Doherty wrote on the group's website. He said the language of a cure was damaging and could make vulnerable people "ashamed of who they are at a very deep and fundamental level".

He continued: "Our belief is that all of us have fallen sexual desires, whether heterosexual or homosexual, and that what we need isn't more heterosexuality or less homosexuality, but the holiness found in Jesus Christ."

Doherty, who is now married with three children, said an attempt to change orientation assumes that "being gay is somehow more problematic" than being straight. Instead, he said: "Heterosexuality as we encounter it in this world is just as fallen as homosexuality."

Freer's accusations came after Living Out was granted charitable status by the Charity Commission after it ruled the group's work was for the "public benefit". The MP for Finchley and Golders Green told Pink News he was "surprised" by the decision.

On its website, Living Out says: "We experience same-sex attraction and yet are committed to what the Bible clearly says, and what the church has always taught, about marriage and sex. We do not identify as gay Christians, preferring to use the term "same-sex attracted".

Peter Ould, who also identifies as same-sex attracted and has featured on the group's website, said Freer's remarks highlighted "his lack of research and his desire for a quick soundbite at the expense of checking facts."

Ould told Christian Today: "It's become far too common for critics of a conservative position on human sexuality to accuse groups of supporting a 'gay cure'. It's clear from looking at the testimonies of the leadership of Living Out that they do not believe in any kind of cure or the necessity to become heterosexual."

The evangelical charity says it exists to "offer biblical support and encouragement to Christians who experience same-sex attraction"

He said it was time to have a more "grown-up conversation" about the complexities of same-sex attraction.