A Tory Euro MP has outraged gay groups by claiming they should be allowed psychiatric help to ”cure” their homosexuality.
Controversial MEP Roger Helmer backed psychotherapist Lesley Pilkington, who could be struck off after offering a gay man therapy to rid him of his sexual orientation.
Outspoken Helmer caused outrage by commenting on Twitter: ”Why is it OK for a surgeon to perform a sex-change operation, but not OK for a psychiatrist to try to ‘turn’ a consenting homosexual?”
Gay rights groups today accused Helmer of ”insulting” homosexuals by claiming they can be ”cured”.
Helmer, who represents the East Midlands in the European Parliament, claimed his Tweet was ”defending the rights” of homosexuals.
He said: ”If you have a man who is homosexual and uncomfortable with that, he should be allowed to seek treatment.
”If, for whatever reasons, moral, religious, personal, a homosexual man wants to have help to cure this, he should be allowed to seek treatment.
”I’m not being critical about homosexuality at all, but if we have people who want to change, why should they be prevented from that happening?
”I’m not getting into the debate about whether it will work or not, I just feel I am speaking up for the rights of people who both work in the medical profession and those who would like to seek treatment.”
However, Jonathan Finney, spokesman for gay equality group Stonewall, said: ”It’s disappointing that an elected representative seems to be supporting so-called gay therapy treatments, which are entirely discredited.
”What lesbian and gay people need is equal treatment by society, not misguided treatment by a minority of health professionals.”
Laura Wint-McKane, chairman of Lincoln Pride, slammed Helmer and claimed gay people do not need to be ”cured”.
She said: ”You do not choose or catch your sexual orientation, it is part of who you are.
”It is not wrong, bad, dirty or immoral not to be straight and it is an insult to assume that gay people would feel they need to be cured.”
Paul Elliott, chief executive of Just Lincolnshire, the county equality and human rights organisation, said: ”In his tweet, Mr Helmer tries to compare different complex issues involving sexual identity, but fails to highlight the religious context behind this story.
”Although a person’s religious belief is protected in law, their behaviour as a result of their belief must not be contrary to the law or professional code of conduct.”
A Conservative Party spokesman said: ”We do not condone this comment.”
Outspoken Helmer previously provoked outrage by claiming homophobia was a word created by ”militant gay rights lobby”.
His Tweet was in support of Christian psychotherapist Lesley Pilkington, 60, who could be struck off after agreeing to convert a gay man who said he wanted to change his sexuality.
She will appear before a professional conduct panel and faces losing her accreditation with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.
The development comes on the same day a gay couple won their court battle against a Christian guesthouse which refused to let the pair share a room.