In a highly significant development, the Royal College of Psychiatrists has changed its position on the causes and nature of same-sex attraction.
The review follows strong criticism made by the Christian Medical Fellowship and Core Issues Trust of the way in which the Royal College had handled scientific evidence on the issue.
In its latest statement, the Royal College states that “sexual orientation is determined by a combination of biological and postnatal environmental factors” and goes on to say that “[it] is not the case that sexual orientation is immutable or might not vary to some extent in a person’s life” (emphasis added).
This represents a major shift from its previous position, which is still reflected in other parts of the Royal College’s website (e.g. “there is no substantive evidence to support the suggestion that the nature of parenting or early childhood experiences have any role in the formation of a person’s fundamental heterosexual or homosexual orientation”).
In justifying its new position, the Royal College cites studies that are over ten years old. There is no explanation as to why weight had not previously been given to these. The Christian Medical Fellowship and Core Issues Trust had critiqued the Royal College’s approach to evidence in their submissions to the Church of England’s Pilling Report.
However, in spite of the recognition that post-birth factors play a part in development of sexual attraction and that sexual orientation is not immutable, the Royal College maintains its opposition to therapy aimed at helping people explore the possibility of change in sexual orientation. Instead it suggests that such therapy is ‘potentially harmful’ but cannot point to any hard evidence to justify such an assertion.
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(This report is from our friends at Christian Concern and Core Values Trust in the UK)
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