BLOEMFONTEIN, South Africa, January 16, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A Christian academy in South Africa has come under attack in the media for offering to help homosexual students leave the gay lifestyle.
The controversy began this past weekend when the Africa Sunday Times ran an article reporting that the Creare Training Centre, a Christian arts, skills and ministry training centre based in Bloemfontein, South Africa, is offering ex-gay therapy.
Now a former student from the college has stepped up to defend the institution, saying it helped her at a time when she was ready to take her life.
“I happen to be one of those 'lesbians' who have been offered a life-changing opportunity,” said the unnamed student in a short letter to the South African Times.
She explained that she had been in a gay relationship for seven years and was “on the verge of suicide” when she came to Creare.
“When I came to Creare I found healing that I can never explain,” she said. “I had a split personality because I had to live two different lives.
“Creare showed me that there was a way out and showed me God's amazing love for EVERYONE!”
She concluded, “I will always be eternally grateful for what God in my life through Creare!”
The Sunday Times reported that gay activists have denounced the academy approach to homosexuality, calling it “tragic, shameful and deeply hurtful.”
The director of homosexual rights organization OUT, Dawie Nel, said the academy’s stance breached South Africa’s anti-discrimination laws.
“Their comments fuel violent discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people, such as the rape of gays and lesbians to ‘cure’ them; or even murders being committed,” Nel said.
Creare's founder, Cornelis van Heyningen, countered that offering help to people seeking to leave homosexuality is not discriminatory.
“We are catering for those who say ‘I want to change as a homosexual’. That’s not saying no homosexuals are allowed,” van Heyningen said.
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A statement from the school says that human rights allow people to identify as homosexual as well as “choose if they want to change their sexual orientation or not.”
“We, therefore, believe that we must be able to facilitate the human rights of the person who wants to change their sexual orientation, because such a person's rights are often undervalued and overlooked,” they said.
“The facilitation of such a person's human rights must take place in an environment that supports such a process of change.”
However, another anonymous former student also wrote to the Times, recounting the experience of coming out as gay at Creare and being told that he/she was “possessed by a gay demonic spirit” and required exorcism.
“I was hurt and appalled by their behaviour but moved on,” said the student, concluding. “This is tragic and I just hope others in the homosexual community have the strength to stand up against this kind of discrimination and help our gay brothers and sisters to accept who they are and live healthy and happy lives.”
More information about the Creare Training Centre is available here.