French prayer against the “fire of desire” seen as conversion therapy
During the summer camp of a Christian organisation in France, a prayer for the "renunciation of the fire of desire" for same-sex relationships occurs. Now, the organisation is accused of conversion therapy.
A French Christian organisation organises camps to help people who struggle with their sexual orientation. However, the Equality Minister calls this homophobic and threatens to close the organisation because of alleged conversion therapy.
The upheaval around the organisation, Torrents de Vie (Torrents of Life), started after a journalist went undercover and joined one of the organisation's activities. That is reported by Evangelical Focus.
Torrents de Vie belongs to an international inter-denominational Christian ministry. It is active in approximately ten French cities and organises seminars, pastoral help and conferences to help people find "grace, truth and freedom in one's relationships and sexuality.
The undercover journalist went to a summer camp of the organisation and recorded conversations among people who sought spiritual help with questions about identity and sexual orientation. He published his findings, which include images recorded by a hidden camera, on a TV show.
The broadcaster, BFMTV, called the activities "disturbing therapies." It invited the French Minister for Equality between Women and Men and the Fight against Discrimination, Bérangère Couillard, to the study to comment on the findings.
The Minister said to be indignant about the event. "I condemn it in the strongest possible terms", she commented. In addition, she said that the images are to be sent to the public prosecutor for investigation. The ideas of Torrent de Vie are "homophobic and transphobic", the Minister added. She also pleaded for the closure of the organisation.
In addition, the Secretary of State for Citizenship, Sonia Backès, requested Miviludes to research all possible courses of action to punish Torrent de Vie. Miviludes is an Interministerial Mission for Vigilance and the Fight against Sectarian Abuses, the website of the French authorities reads. "The sectarian phenomenon is today in our country at an unprecedented level. It is imperative that the French are better informed about the risks associated with it and that the State equips itself with new tools to respond more effectively to this scourge", Backès said. The Secretary of State condemns conversion therapies and says to welcome the approach of Minister Couillard, who forwarded the case to the public prosecutor.
If the organisation is found guilty of practising conversion therapy, its organisers face two years of imprisonment and a fine of 30,000 euros, Le Parisien writes. In France, conversion therapy has been banned by law since January 2022. According to the co-president of SOS Homophobia, this would be the first time for the law to be applied.
Les thérapies de conversion sont interdites depuis 2022.— Bérangère Couillard (@BCouillard33) August 30, 2023
Je demande immédiatement à la @DILCRAH de saisir le Procureur de la République pour enquêter sur les agissements de Torrents de vie. Je condamne fermement ces pratiques intolérables.
Torrents de Vie is part of the National Council of Evangelicals in France (CNEF). The organisation said in 2022, after the ban on conversion therapy was implemented, that it committed itself again to the "protection of individuals and its opposition to all forms of abuse, particularly those committed against people questioning their sexual orientation and gender identity." However, the organisation also emphasised that people should be free to seek help and religious support. In addition, the CNEF promised to "remain vigilant in preserving freedom of thought, conscience, religion and expression for all."
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