canterburyA man who believes that gay people can supress or ‘change’ their sexual orientation through counselling is helping to select the next archbishop of Canterbury.

Glyn Harrison, emeritus professor of psychiatry at Bristol University, has been elected to the Crown Nominations Commission, a board of 16 people chosen to recommend a successor to Rowan Williams. The approved candidate must be approved by the prime minister and the Queen.

Professor Harrison has written articles stating that same sex relationships “fall short of God’s purpose in creation.”  He adds that “there is evidence that some people with unwanted same sex attractions can achieve significant change” and has said that members of the clergy drawn to same sex relationships yet feel it to be unchristian should seek therapy and counselling.

Last year he co-authored an article, called “Unwanted same-sex attraction: Issues of pastoral and counselling support.” published by the Christian Medical Fellowship (CMF). PinkPaper reports that the address for the anti-equality Coalition for Marriage (C4M) is the same as the (CMF). The article says: “People with unwanted SSA [same sex attraction] who seek to live in conformity with their beliefs should be free to receive appropriate and responsible practical care and counsel… Most may choose counselling and pastoral support to maintain, within a Christian framework, the disciplines of chastity. Others may wish to explore the possibility of achieving some degree of change in the strength or direction of unwanted sexual interests.”

Many liberal Anglicans fear Mr Harrison’s appointment could deeper divisions over homosexuality in a church divided over the issues of holding civil partnerships in churches and consecrating gay bishops.

His supporters insist that his views are shared by a significant section of churchgoers and democratically if a leader is to represent an estimated 50 million churchgoers they must also represent these views.

Mr Harrison has refused to give any comment to the press but has released a statement through the Church of England which says that he ”does not believe in the concept of ‘gay cure’ or ‘gay conversion’ and has never been involved in offering any formal counselling or ‘therapy’ in this area himself”.

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