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ITV News undercover: The Christian charity that claims you can change your sexuality

You can choose from a summer retreat, priced at £535, a variety of books, or a series of relationship courses.

This isn’t a church raffle - it’s the website for a Christian charity called Journey UK.

And one of its aims is to help people with "addictions and insecurities" including relating to their "gender and sexuality".

As part of our investigation into so-called gay conversion therapy in the UK, we spent two months attending its group sessions and reading manuals it uses to understand its techniques.

What we found is an organisation which, on the face of it, claims it doesn’t aim to change someone’s sexuality, but which believes change is possible.

Among the pages of the Falling Forward manual are all kinds of claims about the causes of homosexuality Credit: ITV News secret filming

Our undercover reporter began by attending what Journey calls The Accountability Group.

Once a fortnight, in a church hall in London, a group of men meet to discuss what they call 'sexual addictions'.

These 'addictions' include pornography, unfaithfulness, but also, same-sex attraction.

Through song and prayer, they’re trying to seek healing. And they don’t just rely on the word of God, but a text book they recommend.

Among the pages of the Falling Forward manual are all kinds of claims about the causes of homosexuality.

The book lists homosexuality alongside pornography, bestiality and child molestation as addictions. Credit: ITV News secret filming

One chapter states that: "The homosexual neurosis is an example of an attempt to take-in the masculine traits of other men in order to complete one’s personal sense of deficiency".

Another claims that: "Many male survivors abused by other men fear homosexuality or, conversely, become homosexual".

And the book lists homosexuality alongside pornography, bestiality and child molestation as addictions which can be cured.

Our undercover reporter bought his copy of the manual from Journey UK’s national co-leader, Paul Beadle, after arranging a meeting with him last month.

Mr Beadle repeatedly told our reporter that it wasn’t Journey’s aim to change someone’s sexuality, claiming: "We don’t come here and say we try and change anyone or heal anyone whatever their attraction is."

Mr Beadle repeatedly told our reporter that it wasn’t Journey’s aim to change someone’s sexuality. Credit: ITV News secret filming

But on several occasions, Mr Beadle went on to claim that change was in fact possible.

He told our reporter: "As people start to find, look into their relationship with their mother or relationship with their father, those key relationships and where there’s been gaps where there’s been wounding where it’s really impacted us... as God starts to heal and restore those gaps, people find that the attractions start to shift or lessen or change."

Mr Beadle said heterosexual marriage wasn’t the goal of Journey UK. But he offered examples of people who had changed their sexuality.

After our reporter asked whether it’s possible for someone struggling with same sex attraction to be able to have a "normal" and "happy" life, he said: "So we’ve got many testimonies of men and women who’ve moved on. We just had a team member two weeks ago get married.

"A woman, who’s been dealing with same sex attraction who came to us about seven years ago and then became part of our team has found, as she’s been able to accept her own womanhood and femininity and feel more solidity in that, as that’s been restored, then the need to connect with women in an unhealthy way has lessened and diminished.”

Mr Beadle said heterosexual marriage wasn’t the goal of Journey UK. Credit: ITV News secret filming

He suggests our reporter goes on their summer camp and could see a counsellor recommended by Journey UK.

That counsellor is accredited with a professional body which condemns and prohibits any attempt to change or suppress someone’s sexuality.

Indeed, when we showed Journey’s manuals to a senior practitioner at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, he told us there was “absolutely no evidence whatsoever” for the claims made about the causes of homosexuality.

A senior psychiatrist at the Royal College of Psychiatrists said: "Clearly homosexuality is not a disorder, it’s not a disease, and if you’re then subject to somebody who is at least trying to infer that it’s some way pathological that’s going to increase the feelings of stigma and in some cases shame which is actually going to contribute to real mental health problems as against these totally fictitious ones.”

Dr Adrian James from the Royal College of Psychiatrists. Credit: ITV News

The evidence for that, includes Dean. He spent two decades trying to turn himself straight and helped run Journey UK when it was under another name.

But the only lasting change he experienced was to his mental health. He left the organisation after becoming suicidal.

"People go along and they don’t see the kind of exorcism and the fireworks and all of that so they think it’s okay but the reality is it still traps people, it seeps into every part of your life", he told us.

"So I remember being told not to wear certain types of clothes, I remember being told to sit in a certain way and I was living a life in which my sexuality was completely suppressed completely pushed under and that is not a healthy way to live."

Dean spent two decades trying to turn himself straight and helped run Journey UK when it was under another name. Credit: ITV News

In response to our investigation, Journey UK said conversion therapy is "very difficult to define".

They said they would review its materials and have since taken Falling Forward off their website, which they say isn’t written by anyone at Journey UK.

They also say they do not believe homosexuality is an "addiction" and that they welcome all people, whatever their sexuality or gender.

But once again, our investigation has uncovered a tension between religious and sexual freedoms as the Government now considers a ban on so-called conversion therapy.

With no evidence that it is possible to change someone’s sexuality, the government must now design a delicate way to change the law instead.