S. African School Claims It Can ’Cure’ Gay Students
Officials from a Christian arts academy in Bloemfontein, South Africa, claim they can "cure" gay students of their sexual orientation through a "rehabilitation" program, South Africa's Sunday Times reports.
Gay rights activists, however, have criticized the Creare Training Center, which is located in the capital city of the Free State Province, by calling the situation "tragic, shameful and deeply hurtful," the newspaper notes.
Creare bills itself as a "theocentric arts, skills and ministry training centre." Crear mostly specializes in Bible studies, arts and missionary work.
The school's prospectus claims it only wants to improve "the quality of life" for its students, Pink News points out. The school boasts it cane cure homosexuality with its "rehabilitation" program.
According to Creare's prospectus, gay students who do not want to change their lifestyle, will not be accepted into the school. The academy's founder, Cornelius Van Heyningen, denies Creare's policies are anti-gay.
"We are catering for those who say 'I want to change as a homosexual,'" he told the Sunday Times. "That's not saying no homosexuals are allowed."
According to the Bloemfontein Volksblad, the school offers a "ministry" for those who want to change their sexual orientation.
"We believe that all people are precious to God and that He has a fantastic dream [for] everyone," Van Heyningen told the Volksblad. "No person may be discriminated against. Nobody has the right to judge another, or in any way harm. As every man may exercise his rights to position himself as gay, either by his belief that he was born or external experiences, that person may exercise his rights by choosing to change his orientation as gay."
"We believe that the human rights of the person who wants to change his sexual orientation should facilitate, as the human rights of such people often disregarded," Van Heyningen continued. "The facilitation of its human rights should take place in an environment that is supportive of his process of change."
LGBT activists are slamming the school's officials. Dawie Nel, director of an organization called Out, told the Sunday Times that the school is breaking South African laws. "Their comments fuel violent discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people, such as the rape of gays and lesbians to 'cure' them; or even murders being committed," he said.
Melanie Nathan, a South African LGBT rights advocate and lawyer based in the U.S., told Gay Star News that the school's discrimination against gay men and lesbians is illegal under the nation's constitution, the only one in the world that guarantees LGBT rights.
"Not only is this blatant discrimination under the South African Law, 'Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act of 2006', but worse is Heyningen's assertion that gays can be 'cured,'" she said. "It is a myth and quackery to assert such claims, whether done in the name of the Bible, God or therapy. The American Psychiatric Association refers to the great dangers of these types of assertions: 'The potential risks of 'reparative therapy' are great, including depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient.'"
The Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act of 2006 is an anti-discrimination law that protects individuals based on sexual orientation, race, age, disability, marital status and several other factors. Same-sex couple have been able to marry in South Africa since 2006.