Updated with additional links
The Guardian has published an article by Robert Booth headlined Archbishop panel member believes gay people can ‘change’ sexual desire.
A leading member of the Church of England who believes some gay people can be counselled to suppress or possibly change their sexual orientation is helping to select the next Archbishop of Canterbury.
Glynn Harrison, emeritus professor of psychiatry at Bristol University, is on the powerful Crown Nominations Commission (CNC), which will chose a successor to Rowan Williams to be approved by the prime minister and the Queen.
Harrison’s role on the 16-strong panel has triggered alarm among liberal Anglicans who fear it could deepen existing divisions over homosexuality in a church already riven by the issues of holding gay civil ceremonies in churches and the ordination of gay bishops…
A lengthy statement (quoted in the news story) issued by the press office at Church House, Westminster, on behalf of Dr Glynn Harrison can be read in full here (PDF).
Professor Glynn Harrison does not believe in concepts of ‘gay cure’ or ‘gay conversion’ and has never been involved in offering any formal counselling or ‘therapy’ in this area himself. Such descriptions, because they depend on inappropriate notions of ‘sickness’, convey simplistic and stigmatising views. In addition, as he has made clear, all bullying and prejudice toward people, whatever their sexual interests and attractions, is a violation of the inclusive call of the Christian Gospel and the way of Jesus Christ.
Professor Harrison, who supports the current teaching of the Church of England in Issues in Human Sexuality, began investigating the area of faith and human sexuality when asked by the Anglican Communion Office in 2007 to contribute to a forthcoming book (‘The Anglican Communion and Homosexuality’). This was being prepared for the 2008 Lambeth Conference as part of the ‘Listening Process’. Since then he has written other articles on faith and human sexuality. A recent example, written with Dr Andrew Goddard, was published in the Church Times on December 9th 2011 and accompanies this statement…
The Church Times article mentioned is now behind a paywall again, but for subscribers the link is here: Now for the ‘B’ picture.
…Trailing at the end is the “witness of science” on the biological basis of sexuality. As scientists, we might welcome such an approach but before the Church changed its mind on slavery or women priests did it debate the biological basis for race and gender? I suspect not. It appears here because of homosexuality’s persisting image as a deviation from nature’s heterosexual plan. But never mind. Just what have these chapters to tell us? The first by David de Pomerai and Glynn Harrison is a reasonable enough summary of what neuroscience and genetics can tell us about homosexuality and is fair to the literature. The second by Glynn Harrison is of much lower quality. Here we have an academic psychiatrist bending over backwards to suggest, on the basis of the weakest sort of evidence, that sexual orientation can be changed. I suspect if he were reviewing evidence of similar quality for the efficacy of a new medication he would dismiss it out of hand. And so unsurprisingly, he finds what he sets out to find – namely that given enough willingness there are treatments out there to make homosexual people into heterosexuals, or at the very least stop them wanting sex…
Dr King has today commented on the most recent statement about Dr Harrison linked above as follows:
The Royal College of Psychiatrists, of which Dr Harrison is a Fellow, has these statements on its website:
Anyone who is interested in Dr Harrison’s own research may find this useful: Publications for Professor Glynn Harrison.