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Police criticize, investigate Church of England bishop for comments about reparative therapy
Peter Forster, the Church of England's Bishop of Chester, is one of the men behind the church's report, "Some Issues In Human Sexuality: A Guide to the Debate," which received some media attention last week. (The report essentially called for "full debate" of sexuality issues in the church and said that gay, bisexual, and transgender parishioners should be treated with "understanding, support, and unconditional love," but offered no policy recommendations.)

It seemed natural, then, that the local newspaper would ask Forster, who opposes the ordination of gay bishops, about the report and about homosexuality and the church. Among his comments to the Chester Chronicle was the following: "Some people who are primarily homosexual can reorientate themselves. I would encourage them to consider that as an option, but I would not set myself up as a medical specialist on the subject—that's in the area of psychiatric health. We want to help them, but I don't offer it as a panacea. I am about giving honor to marriage."

The comment made national news, and now the localpoliceareinvestigating the comment as a breach of public order. (Manchester Online reports that the complaint suggested that Forster's comments were a hate crime.) Police chief Peter Fahy already seems to have made up his mind, and tells the BBC that Bishop Forster crossed the line. "I think in a civilized society that is totally unacceptable," he said. "Cheshire Police, day in, day out, deals with offences against members of minority communities which are generated by hate and prejudice. I think all public leaders need to make sure that comments they make are balanced by that need ...

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November 2003

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