A Polish bishop dismissed fears that the Catholic church wants to force LGBT+ people into conversion therapy (Artur Widak/NurPhoto/ Getty)
A Polish bishop has insisted it’s a “misconception” that the church wants to force LGBT+ people into conversion therapy, despite calling for the creation of conversion therapy clinics just days earlier.
After a three-day Polish Episcopal Conference, bishops in Poland produced a 27-page document outlining their stance on LGBT+ issues. It included the claim that it is “necessary to create [conversion therapy] clinics… to help people regain their sexual health and natural sexual orientation”.
“These clinics also make sense when complete sexual transformation is too difficult,” it continued, “as they can still help psychosexuals to deal with significant challenges.”
The document was the latest in a string of attacks against the LGBT+ community by the Polish Catholic church, and prompted considerable backlash.
But in a September 2 statement, Bishop Józef Wróbel, an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Lublin and chairman of the bioethics committee of the Bishops’ Conference of Poland, said that it was a “misconception” to suggest that the bishops wanted to coerce people into “therapy”.
According to the Catholic Herald, he said the recommendation was aimed only at those “who seek such help and ask for it, because they experience suffering because of their inclinations”.
So-called ‘conversion therapy’ refers to the dangerous and discredited practise of trying to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. It has been rejected by every mainstream medical and mental health organisation for decades, is often compared to torture and has been linked to higher risks of depression, suicide, and drug addiction.
The fact that conversion therapy is “clearly in contradiction” to scientific evidence was acknowledged in the Episcopal conference, yet Bishop Wróbel maintained that it is effective.
He said: “In rare cases, transformation is possible under two conditions, namely that the LGBT person must really desire such a change (usually making an outright heroic effort in this direction) and there is as yet no homosexual sexual experience.
“Such help is not possible if, at the starting point, a person adopts the attitude that this inclination is natural, willed by the Creator, and should be accepted.”
The United Nations has compared conversion therapy to torture and has long called for a global ban. But the bishop opposed this, insisted that a ban on such therapies does not “make sense”.
He said: “In practice, such a position does not make sense, because it means that the UN demands to control who goes to a psychologist and for what purpose, or who goes to the Church, who confesses and what they confess.”