This article appeared in the February 2008 edition of the Catholic Medical Quarterly

Return to Feb 2008 edition of CMQ

Discrimination Against Lesbian and Gay Bi-sexual Persons

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has submitted a report to the Church of England's Listening Exercise on Human Sexuality. ( The report has been endorsed by the full College, from the President down, according to the Church Times (16 Nov. 2007)

The rights of Lesbian and Gay people, according to the report, include "rights and responsibilities involved in procreating and bringing up children, freedom to practise religion as a lay person or religious leader...and a right to protection from therapies that are potentially damaging, particularly those that purport to change sexual orientation".

Interesting Professor Robert Spitzer, who had actively campaigned on behalf of homosexual rights in the 70's, now believes that some LGB persons may be able to change their orientation with appropriate therapy (Archives of Sexual Behaviour 2003 October 32(5) 403-17), after receiving hate mail he has discontinued further research in this area.

The Royal College report mentions the tragic experience of discrimination suffered by LGB people and claims that the greater than expected prevalence of mental health and substance misuse problems are due to such discrimination. Also, an excellent paper in the British Journal of Psychiatry notes the higher than expected mental health problems of LGB people in secular regions of Australia (B.J. Psychiatry 2002 May 180: 423-7)

There are other minority groups that have suffered discrimination and do not present with a greater than expected prevalence of substance abuse; Indian, Chinese and Jewish populations over the years.

The report notes that "there is good evidence that marriage confers health benefits on homosexual men and women... legal recognition of civil partnerships seems likely to stabilise same-sex relationships..."

However, the Australian study already cited notes that bisexuals have even higher mental health needs than homosexuals. Does that mean they ought to be entitled to two marriages per person on the basis of mental health needs?

Marriage is already in crisis and requires to be supported by the Church and Civil authority. It does not need to be defined.

An important point of note in the report is that if "sexual orientation is not a choice, sexual behaviour is". The pastoral work of Fr. John Harvey and others has enabled countless LGB persons to live lives of holiness and the Church must not fail them.