Peter May surveys the role of ideology in the debate over homosexuality.
- The RCPSych appears to have locked itself into a 'born gay' ideology by ignoring the evidence to the contrary.
- A Private Members' Motion to regulate psychotherapy includes a highly illiberal clause outlawing psychotherapy for people who want help in reducing unwanted same-sex desires.
- The UK Council for Psychotherapy has been repeatedly asked to provide evidence for their claim that reparative therapy is harmful – but none has been offered.
In January 2013, a retired engineer published a remarkable paper. He examined in detail the 2007 submission by the Royal College of Psychiatrists to the Church of England's Listening Exercise on Human Sexuality and their almost identical submission to the Pilling Commission in 2012. Rarely, when doctors read medical papers do they examine all the footnotes, but Dermot O'Callaghan did.
The origins of homosexuality
He noticed that the College had made a significant alteration to their original report. The first said, 'It would appear that sexual orientation is biological in nature, determined by a complex interplay of genetic factors and the early uterine environment.' The second version however, says that it is 'determined by genetic factors and/or the early uterine environment'. While the first version implied that genetic and hormonal influences work together in this, the second version logically allows that orientation could be caused entirely by genes or entirely by hormones. Conversely, it may have nothing to do with genes or nothing to do with hormones. The College thereby admits that there is no compelling evidence to say it is genetic or hormonal. Where then is the evidence that orientation is biological in nature?
Regrettably, the College ignores twin studies, a major research field for two decades. An important study published in 2000
(1) showed that among male identical twins, where one was gay, there was an 89% chance that his co-twin was not. As they shared essentially identical genes and intrauterine environments, this implies the importance of later postnatal, non-biological causes, such as life events or choices, in determining sexual orientation.
Certainly, genes do not dictate behaviour. Alcoholics, for instance, can resist their genetically influenced cravings. These studies also show that the common analogy with skin colour is demonstrably false.
The College claims, 'There is no substantive evidence to support the suggestion that the nature of parenting or early childhood experiences play any role in the formation of a person's fundamental heterosexual or homosexual orientation.'
Yet in 2006, a major Danish study reported, 'population-based, prospective evidence that childhood family experiences are important determinants of heterosexual and homosexual marriage decisions in adulthood.' (2) The College appears to have locked itself into a 'born gay' ideology by ignoring the evidence to the contrary. Its argument that causation is 'biological' has led to the widespread belief that LGB people are being 'true to their nature' in homosexual behaviour.