“Gay cure” conferences: when free speech does not apply

Anyone who follows this blog or knows me will be aware that I am normally a virulent defender of the principle of free speech and expression, regardless of my views on the speaker. This is rarely out of love for the person in question, but rather out of fear of the consequences for us if we abandon this principle. As I wrote earlier, last year was a dreadful year for free speech, and we need to work to change this.

With this being said, it may surprise you that this post is about forbidding a bunch of very unsavoury people to speak in the UK. I am referring to the ‘Holy Sexuality Conference’ hosted by the Seventh Day Adventist Church. In short, they plan to bring a shower of bastards over from the US to tell gay people how their shameful and sinful tendencies can be cured and they can be back on the righteous path and God won’t send them to hell for doing what he created them to do. Now, it should be apparent to any right-thinking and sane person that it is grotesque to condemn a person for their sexuality, and even more grotesque to suggest it is so wrong it needs to be ‘cured’.  But how do we square forbidding them to speak with the right to free speech?

Very simple. John Stuart Mill added one crucial caveat to the idea of freedom of expression: the harm principle. Briefly, speech should always be free, unless it contains a direct incitement to do harm or violence to someone. This is why those of who defend the principle allow an Islamic hate preacher to denounce the west as demonic or a far-right candidate to protest against immigration but do not allow them to go on to suggest terror attacks or racist attacks as a solution. In the case of ‘gay cures’, I am completely satisfied that the effects of such ‘therapy’ can amount to significant harm on individuals to justify their outlawing. The psychological harm of trying to force an individual to deny their sexuality and change it will often be immense, leading to anxiety, depression, self-loathing and, in the worst cases, suicide.

It is one thing for religious groups to condemn homosexuality, but it is another for them to actively seek to attempt to force a person to ‘convert’ to heterosexuality. It is dangerous, wrong and also complete nonsense. So for what good it will do, sign this and help make a stand against such grotesque ideas.

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The Condition of the Left in England

'A grotesque mixture of Enlightenment Liberalism, One-Nation Conservatism and Socialism.' Skeptic and linguaphile.

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