Oxford University Defends Decision To Host Christian Concern Conference Who Claim To 'Cure Homosexuality'

Exeter College Homosexuality

The Huffington Post UK   First Posted: 22/02/2012 13:33 Updated: 22/02/2012 17:25

Oxford University has defended its decision to host a conference held by a Christian group who previously claimed they could "cure" homosexuality.

Christian Concern is holding a five-day event at Exeter College next month, which has angered students and gay rights campaigners at the university.

A letter written by a student sparked the barrage of complaints, according to the Daily Mail.

Now, Stonewall, a gay rights group, has condemned the decision made by the college, saying "gay students and many Christians will be deeply offended" by the group's appearance.

But Oxford has refused to cancel the conference, organised by the college's governing body, saying it was not "commercially viable" to do so at this stage.

The rector of Exeter College, Frances Cairncross, said she was "especially dismayed that we should come under attack".

"The college and its governing body have always worked hard to ensure that its members of all sexual orientations felt safe here and secure from any hostility."

A spokesperson for the university said it is important to note there is a gay and lesbian community within the college which has supported the institution.

A statement from the LGBTQ community of Exeter college said it is "extremely welcoming towards its LGBTQ staff and students.

"Through its appointments to important positions and its actions in the past, Exeter has demonstrated its support for the LGBTQ community both in Exeter and the wider University.”

The spokesperson for Oxford University added the college is hosting a dinner for gay and lesbian members across the university.

"It has a very strong record for providing a safe environment for those members. There is no evidence the conference will be discussing homosexuality," she told The Huffington Post UK.

The university is now currently reviewing the basis which it takes bookings in the future.

The organisation came under fire for backing a Christian counsellor barred from the professional register after trying to "cure" a homosexual patient in January this year.

Christian Concern offered its support to Lesley Pilkington saying in a press release she had not had a fair trial and argued it was "time to stand up to a militant homosexual lobby who are unable to tolerate difference of opinion".

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, Christian Concern's sister organisation, said protestors against the conference are "on a campaign to distort what we do".

"They have latched onto this and mashed together two stories. Homosexuals are displaying an extraordinary intolerance for us and freedom of thought.

"We are motivated by love and compassion for all people. Everyone seems to forget Oxford University was founded by Christians."

Williams added the conference would examine a range of issues, from freedom and family to marriage and how Christian values fit into the public sphere.

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