Police to question bishop over gay 'cure' comment

By Chris Gray
Monday 10 November 2003 01:00

A bishop who called on homosexuals to seek medical help to change their sexuality is to be interviewed by police.

The Rt Rev Peter Forster, Bishop of Chester, will be questioned by Cheshire Constabulary after the force received a complaint about his comments in a local newspaper last week.

The Anglican bishop, who opposed both the consecration of the openly gay Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire in the US and the proposed appointment of Canon Jeffrey John, a celibate homosexual, as Bishop of Reading, said he would encourage gay people to try "reorientation".

He said: "Some people who are primarily homosexual can reorientate themselves." He added: "I would not set myself up as a medical specialist on the subject - that's in the area of psychiatric health."

Cheshire police confirmed yesterday that they planned to speak to the bishop.

Assistant Chief Constable Graeme Gerrard said: "We are aware of the article put in The Chester Chronicle and have received a complaint."

He continued: "We will examine the issues raised in the complaint and will speak to the reporter and the Bishop of Chester before considering any further action."

A spokesman said the force would send a copy of the article to the Crown Prosecution Service to see if an offence had been committed.

The bishop's comments to The Chester Chronicle came as the Church of England faces the prospect of a worldwide schism over the consecration of Bishop Robinson, which was bitterly opposed by Anglicans in developing countries.

His comments also follow a study at Columbia University in New York which suggested some homosexuals could become "predominantly" heterosexual through psychotherapy.

The study was based on interviews with 200 men and women who said their sexual preferences had been changed by therapy, often provided by religious organisations.

Dr Forster, who is married with four children, was reported in his local paper stating that his opinions were based on the belief that children fared best in traditional families. "All the sociological evidence is that children fare better when raised in a traditional home by a man and a woman who have committed themselves to a life-long marriage," he said.