Projects

Launch of 2018 National Faith & Sexuality Survey Results

EMBARGOED UNTIL 1930 ON WEDNESDAY 20TH FEBRUARY 2019

SURVEY HIGHLIGHTS REPORTS OF SIGNIFICANT HARM EXPERIENCED BY LGBQ+ CHILDREN OF FAITH WHO ARE SUBJECT TO “CONVERSION THERAPY”

The 2018 National Faith & Sexuality Survey has revealed the high level of mental health issues reported amongst people who have attempted changing their sexual orientation, with many sharing they have attempted suicide or had suicidal thoughts.  Over half said they first attempted to change whilst they were 18 or under with many stating they were influenced by their religious leader.  22 people said they had been forced to undergo sexual activity with someone of the opposite gender.  These attempts were reported as being overwhelmingly unsuccessful, with the primary motivations given for attempting to change relating to either religious beliefs or internationalised homophobia.

The survey, the first of its kind in the UK, was designed to understand the impact of religious belief on people’s understanding and acceptance of their sexual orientation.  It ran during December 2018 and attracted over 4600 responses, of which a tenth (458) stated they had personal experience of attempting to change their sexual orientation.  Over half of these said they had experienced mental health issues, of whom nearly a third (91 people) said they had attempted suicide while over two-thirds (193 people) said they had had suicidal thoughts.  Two in five of those who reported mental health issues indicated they had self-harmed and a quarter said they had suffered from eating disorders.  Few said they had sought advice from the medical profession but instead nearly half said they had sought advice from their religious leader, who was identified as being significantly more likely than parents to be the person to advise or force attempts at sexual orientation change.

Reflecting on the findings the Rt Revd Paul Bayes, Bishop of Liverpool and Chair of the Ozanne Foundation, which managed the project, said:

“The level of considered and attempted suicide reported here is shocking and sobering. The statistics reflect lives which have been scarred and strained by mixed messaging of love, acceptance, condemnation and fear. My hope is that the courageous sharing of our respondents will not go unheard, and that human flourishing and human life will not be treated as a mere intellectual battleground for dry conversation.”

Project co-ordinator, Jayne Ozanne, who herself suffered mental health issues following attempts to change her own sexual orientation because of her religious beliefs added:

“For many, much of this report will confirm what they already know regarding the dangers of “conversion therapy”.  However, it is the scale and severity of the problems experienced and the age at which children are said to be exposed to these practices that are of the gravest concern.  The high level of reports of attempted suicide and suicidal thoughts amongst those who have attempted to change their sexual orientation is not something that can be easily dismissed.  These are serious safeguarding issues which require urgent action.”

The survey was overseen by an influential Advisory Board made up of some of the most senior statistical, religious and healthcare professionals in the UK.  One of its members, Martin Pollecoff, Chair of the UK Council of Psychotherapists commented that:

“It is desperately sad that so few said they had sought help from the medical profession, but instead turned to discredited methods that we know cause significant harm to try and change their sexual orientation.  Our aim is to help people come to terms with their sexuality so that they can embrace and celebrate who they are, rather than living in shame and fear.”

Another member of the Advisory Board, Teddy Prout of Humanists UK, added:

“Is it any wonder that so many people decide to walk away from their religious identity when the community who is supposed to be there to love and support them cause them such harm?  We have a growing group of “apostate” LGBT+ members in Humanists UK who have had to break free from what they found to be a highly toxic and controlling environment in order to be able to survive and flourish.  The Government urgently needs to act on its commitment to end the practise of conversion therapy once and for all.” 

The report is being presented at a lunchtime fringe meeting at the General Synod on February 21st 2019 ahead of the Church of England’s own presentation of its proposed “Pastoral Principles” for pastoral ministry among LGBTI+ people in the Church.

  ENDS

2018 National Faith & Sexuality Survey Launched

An influential group of multifaith representatives is to examine the role religious belief has on people’s understanding and acceptance of their sexual orientation in the UK.  Working alongside Humanists UK their survey aims to unearth the types of practice that are still prevalent in the UK and the impact that this has on an individual’s mental health.

The research is in response to the government’s 2017 National LGBT Survey with around 108,000 respondents, 2% of whom had undergone some form of conversion or reparative therapy in an attempt to “cure” them of being LGBT, and a further 5% reporting they had been offered it. The research is being conducted by the Ozanne Foundation with the support of some of the most senior UK statistical, religious and healthcare professionals.

Bishop Paul Bayes, Chair of the Ozanne Foundation, explains the reason for the research:

“Conversion therapy has no place in the modern world, and has been roundly condemned by the Church of England among many others.  Sadly, we already know that all too often it has devastating long term consequences.  And we are concerned that it is still being practised by various religious groups. So we want to understand why this is and to look more closely at the effect it can have on an individual.”

Martin Pollecoff, the Chair of the UK Council of Psychotherapists, has been instrumental in ensuring that the healthcare profession has been clear in its condemnation of the practice:  “In 2009, the UKCP added a clear ban on ‘Conversion Therapy’ to our code of conduct.  Since then we have worked alongside our colleagues in other Healthcare Professions to end these unethical practices resulting in the ‘2017 Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion Therapy in the UK’ being adopted by a partnership of 13 national healthcare organisations. Today, Conversion Therapy has gone underground – it takes place ‘in the dark’. This research will help us illuminate its prevalence and discover where it is still taking place. 

Jayne Ozanne, Director of the Ozanne Foundation, is herself a survivor of gay conversion therapy and knows first-hand the harm that it can do to mental and physical health:

“Like many, I voluntarily chose to put myself through various forms of deliverance ministry and emotional healing in order to try and rid myself of my unwanted sexual desires as I believed them to be sinful.  Sadly, this ended with me being hospitalised twice for severe abdominal pain caused by stress and two nervous breakdowns.  If I had understood the dangers I would never have put myself through such emotional and spiritual abuse.”

However, she recognises that there are some for whom this has claimed to work, and she is keen that the national survey captures their experiences too.  At the same time, there are many LGBT people who have felt that they have had no choice but to walk away from their faith, as Teddy Prout, Director of Community Services for Humanists UK explains:

“We have a significant group of “apostate”  LGBT members within Humanists UK, many of whom were brought up in religious homes and yet have left their religion because of the way they have been treated and made to feel.  This research will enable their experiences to be heard and understood by the religious groups of which they were once part.”

The survey is open to all in the UK who are over 16 and is available both online at www.ozanne.foundation and through social media.  It will run till December 31st 2018.

ENDS

1.      The Advisory Board consists of the following members (in alphabetical order):

Dr Jamie Harrison, Chair of the House of Laity, Church ofEngland

Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, Senior Rabbi to Reform Judaism

Martin Pollecoff, Chair of UK Council of Psychotherapists

Teddy Prout, Director of Community Services Humanists UK

Khakan Qureshi, Founder of Birmingham South Asian LGBT+ -Finding a Voice

Professor Sir Bernard Silverman, Former President of theRoyal Statistical Society

Rt Revd Dr David Walker, Bishop of Manchester

2.      A downloadable version of the survey questions is available here and the actual survey (with the inbuilt logic steps) is available here or at www.bit.ly/FaithSexualitySurvey .

3.      On July 3rd 2018 the government announced that it would bring forward proposals to end the practice of conversion therapy in the UK as part of its LGBT Action Plan 2018 following the results of its National LGBT Survey.

4.        The results will be made public at a fringe meeting of General Synod in February 2019

Ozanne Foundation Unveils Strategy to Combat Prejudice

Paul and Jayne

The newly launched Ozanne Foundation revealed its three-fold strategy to tackle prejudice and discrimination on the grounds of sexuality and gender in religious organisations at an event in Westminster on April 9th 2018.

Over 100 guests, including some of the most senior figures in the LGBTI campaigning world, came together to celebrate the launch of the Ozanne Foundation as a charity.

Speaking at the event the Chair of the Foundation, the Bishop of Liverpool Rt Revd Paul Bayes, explained that the charity’s focus would be to promote the equality and diversity of all, independent of someone’s sexuality or gender, within religious organisations around the world: “We embrace and celebrate the fact that we are each uniquely created and yet all equally loved by God,” he said.  “The Foundation’s work will focus on our three core themes; enabling positive Encounters between those who disagree, helping inform and Educate, and equipping and Empowering people to advocate for greater inclusion. We believe that there is a growing desire for change, and we want to help resource it.” (full text of speech available here)

The three-fold strategy of ‘Encounter – Educate – Empower’ looks to create opportunities for meaningful encounters with LGBTI people of faith with those of a more conservative mindset.  In addition, the Foundation will look to tackle misunderstandings about LGBTI people through better education of the science surrounding sexuality and gender issues, and the impact of prejudice on then mental health.  Finally, it will also empower people to speak out in their immediate communities and equip them with the tools they need to help bring about change.

“For too long, many have hesitated from speaking out for fear of rejection and alienation by their colleagues,” Director of the Foundation, Jayne Ozanne explained. “This is particularly true in evangelical churches, where a growing number of younger members are at odds with their leadership over this issue.”

The event was held at the offices of Lee Bolton Monier-Williams in Westminster and brought together the leaders of many of the main LGBT groups in the UK.

Jayne Ozanne also used the event to announce the forthcoming publication of her book “Just Love”, which charts her own personal story of her struggle to accept her sexuality, and which will be published in June.

Front of flier

Media Coverage of Westminster Launch Event

Rejection by C of E has driven LGBT people to suicide, bishop says – The Guardian, April 9th 2018

Bishop and senior clergyman join calls for Church of England to lose equalities exemptions – Christian Today, April 9th 2018

This new foundation aims to promote equality for LGBTQ people within faith organisations – Gay Times, April 9th 2018

The Church of England should lose its exemption to discrimination laws, Dean of St Paul’s says – The Telegraph, April 10th 2018

Ozanne Foundation launched – Thinking Anglicans, April 10th 2018

New charity launches three-fold strategy to promote equality independent of sexuality or gender – Ekklesia, April 10th 2018

Bishop says Church of England should lose right to discriminate against gay people – Pink News, April 10th 2018

Ozanne Foundation launch

The Guardian broke the news of the launch with an exclusive interview with the new chair, the Rt Revd Paul Bayes, Bishop of Liverpool, on December 28th 2017

Guardian front page

The BBC incorporated it into its Daily News bulletin during Dec 28th 2017 and this was then featured in the Radio 4 Today Programme News at 0800.

BBC News

Christian Today were the first to cover the charity in detail, focusing on why it had been set up and the range of people involved.

Christian Today

“Evangelical support for Trump is not justified, says Bishop of Liverpool” – Church Times

Church of England bishop hits out at Trump-backing evangelicals as he calls for LGBT-inclusive Christianity – Pink News gives arguably the best coverage of the launch of the foundation and what it has been set up to achieve.

Bishop hits out at faith leaders who ‘build walls not bridges’ – Church of England Newspaper, January 4th 2018

Charity aims to find religious acceptance of all LGBTI people – Guernsey Press, January 3rd 2018

Jayne Ozanne sets up Ozanne Foundation to combat LGBT stigma in religious groups – Oxford Mail / Oxford Times January 4th 2018

International (major outlets)

British bishop says US evangelicals are ‘uncritically accepting’ of Trump – CNN

A top Church of England bishop scolds U.S. evangelicals for ‘uncritical’ support of Trump – Washington Post

British Bishop Criticizes Evangelicals who support for Trump – Metro Weekly

UK bishop: US evangelicals ‘uncritically accepting’ of positions taken by Trump – The Hill

US Evangelical Christians ‘Uncritically Accepting’ Of Donald Trump, Bishop Of Liverpool Says – Huffington Post

Christian voters’ Trump support isn’t ‘justifiable’, British Bishop says – Newsweek

UK Bishop speaks out about American Christians who support Trump – Western Journal

TV & Radio

ITV News for the Channel Islands – interview with Jayne, December 30th 2017

BBC Radio Guernsey – in-depth two part interview with Ollie Gillou during Drive Time, December 28th 2017

Radio Ulster – comment and discussion during Drive Time (listen 17:25-31), December 28th 2017

Other UK Press Coverage

Bishop of Liverpool hits out at Christians who support Donald Trump – Express

Bishop of Liverpool criticises Christians who support Trump – Premier

“About time” – Bishop of Liverpool praised for slamming Christian Trump supporters – Liverpool Echo

 

New LGBTI Charity Launches

BISHOP OF LIVERPOOL TO CHAIR NEW CHARITY TO ADVANCE ACCEPTANCE AND UNDERSTANDING OF LGBTI PEOPLE BY ALL RELIGIOUS GROUPS

paul bayes

The Rt Revd Paul Bayes is to Chair the Ozanne Foundation, a new charity that will work with religious organisations around the world to eliminate discrimination based on sexuality or gender.

The Charity’s Director, Jayne Ozanne, is a well-known activist within the Church of England and has led a range of initiatives over the past two years to help ensure the Church embraces and celebrate the equality and diversity of all.

Bishop Paul chairs an influential group of ten trustees from across the church traditions, which range from the Dean of St Paul’s, the Very Revd David Ison, to the Editor of the Church of England Newspaper, Colin Blakely.  A Council of Reference brings together some of the most outspoken names on LGBTI rights within the Christian Church – including Revd Steve Chalke of the Oasis Foundation, the Very Revd Prof Martin Percy, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, Ben Bradshaw MP and the Dean of St Albans, the Very Revd Jeffrey John.

Speaking about his decision to chair this new foundation, the Rt Revd Paul Bayes said:

“The Church of England has committed herself to what our Archbishops have called radical new Christian inclusion, and has publicly stated that we are against all forms of homophobia.  If we mean this, and I believe we do, then we need to find appropriate ways of welcoming and affirming LGBTI people who want their love recognised by the Church.  I have long been an admirer of Jayne Ozanne’s strong clear advocacy for LGBTI people and other groups who have suffered hurt and abuse – not least at the hands of the Church – and I believe her work should be actively supported and encouraged.”

The new foundation has been set up to help educate and advocate on LGBTI and gender rights around the world, particularly within religious organisations that are opposed to non-heterosexual relationships.  In addition, it will look to foster good relations inside religious organisations that hold conflicting views on sexuality and gender issues.

Based in Oxford, Ozanne has shown an impressive track record in galvanising senior Anglicans to come together to speak out on behalf of the LGBTI community.  Last summer she led a Private Member’s Debate in the General Synod that resulted in the Church of England calling on the government to ban Conversion Therapy.

“I am thrilled that so many personal friends have felt moved to come together to support my work, and am excited about what this new opportunity might mean.  I know that together we can work to ensure that all are fully accepted and celebrated for who they have been created to be – after all, the core of our faith commands Just Love for all!”

ENDS