An agenda in the United Kingdom that includes a ban on any counseling, discussion or therapy that would be aimed at persuading those with gender dysphoria to live their lives as they sex they were born has been surging in recent months.
One plan that has been openly discussed has been to make it illegal to participate in any such discussions.
Christians and others have argued that that is an unequal crackdown on religious viewpoints, and now even an atheist agrees with that.
The Christian Institute reports Stuart Waiton, a senior lecturer in sociology at Abertay University, a “devout atheist,” said it would be wrong to criminalize such discussions.
“I totally disagree with Christian ideas about homosexuality. But I also recognize that in a free and liberal society people must be free to believe and to preach about whatever they like,” he said.
He said the term “conversion therapy” is wrong, as it creates “images of someone being tortured by being strapped to a chair with electrodes stuck on their head.”
But that, he said, already is illegal and new legislation does not concern such crimes.
“Are we saying that non-coercive religious practices or even beliefs should be made criminal? This could include the beliefs of parents who oppose homosexuality,” he said.
He cited LGBT activist Jayne Ozanne, who has escalated the hate against Christians by claiming, “There is no such thing as a simple, loving prayer” on sexual ethics.
He warned if those discussions, those therapies, are criminalized, much will be lost.
He said a ban would be “a new type of coercion by the state, so that even voluntary discussions between adults is turned into a discussion about ‘manipulation’ and we end up criminalizing certain outlooks that we disagree with.”
He warned, “Either we live in a free society where people can express their beliefs freely or we do not. If the UK bill is passed, there is a serious danger that this freedom will be lost,” the Christian Institute reported.
At the Herald Scotland, a report said a proposed government ban on “conversion therapy” was changed because of the fear that therapists could be made criminals.
But, the report said, the existing plan still risks “criminalizing Christians who attempt to dissuade people from being gay.”
Waiton wrote there that the bill “would appear to be a serious threat to religious freedom, indeed to freedom of conscience itself.”
He explained, “Using coercion to force someone to change their beliefs is criminal. The bill, however, talks about not only coercion but ‘manipulation.’ Based on this definition, if it can be called a definition, there is the potential that anyone who attempts to pursued someone from desisting from involvement in a gay relationship could be criminalized.”
He continued, “Freedom of conscience and arguments around religious freedom were the starting-point for our ideas about freedom of speech. However, many of those who have campaigned for the Conversion Therapy Bill argue that even ‘Spiritual guidance’ about sexual orientation is ‘inherently coercive.’
“Part of the problem appears to be that we increasingly treat individuals as profoundly vulnerable and in need of protection, not only from others but also from themselves. With such an infantilized view , strongly-held opinions increasingly come to be seen as coercive, manipulative and abusive; freedom comes to be understood as dangerous and something we all need to be protected from,” he said.
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