The Catholic church of Spain defended a bishop after a newspaper reported he ran so-called gay conversion therapy courses.
Madrid’s regional government said on Tuesday (2 April) it is investigating the diocese of Alcala de Henares for violating anti-homophobia laws. This comes after news site El Diario posted a story of a journalist posing as a gay man and attending a counselling service provided by the diocese. In it, they allege the bishop is running illegal conversion therapy sessions.
The site claims these counselling sessions have been running since 2009. That is when Juan Antonio Reig Pla, an anti-LGBTI bishop, took over the diocese.
However, a statement on the diocese of Alcala de Henares website labeled the report as ‘fake news’ and a ‘theatrical montage’. They did not deny they ‘offered help’ to those who requested it.
Protesters at the church
The Local Spain contacted Luis Arguello Garcia, a spokesperson for Spain’s Episcopal Conference (the leaders of the Catholic church in the country). He expressed ‘support and affection’ for the bishop and ‘rejected the irruption of a group of vociferous people in a temple in where a mass was being celebrated.’
This comes as protesters protested the bishop inside Alcala de Henares cathedral on Tuesday (2 April), right before mass.
Garcia added that ‘homosexuality is not cure’ but the Church offered sessions for people ‘uncomfortable’ with their homosexuality.
Conversion therapy is outlawed in Madrid, the province where Alcala de Herares is located, even if a person consents to the treatment. Organizations offering the widely debunked ‘therapy’ can face fines of up to €45,000 ($50546.43).