LGBT activist Jayne Ozanne has insisted that “gentle non-coercive prayer” should be included in UK legislation banning LGBT conversion therapy.
Ms. Ozanne has said that prayer asking for God’s help to overcome same-sex attraction resembles hate speech, even in the case of “gentle non-coercive prayer,” and therefore should be outlawed.
“All prayer that seeks to change or suppress someone’s innate sexuality or gender identity is deeply damaging and causes immeasurable harm,” Ozanne asserted, dubbing such a practice “hate prayer.”
“Prayer isn’t prayer if it causes you to hate yourself for being LGBT!” Ozanne wrote on Twitter last month. “It’s actually ‘Hate prayer.’ It is dangerous, damaging & must be included in a bill to #BanConversationtherapy.”
“I know – I spent years trying to ‘pray the gay away’ & ended up in hospital wishing I would die,” she said.
In 2020, Ozanne famously compared biblical Christians to “rapists” and “Holocaust deniers” for their opposition to homosexual sex.
Inviting LGBT people to dialogue with Church leaders is unacceptable, Ozanne insists, because their message is offensive.
“Would one invite a survivor of the Holocaust to sit down and listen to the rantings of a Holocaust denier?” she asked. “Would one ask a rape victim to sit down with a rapist and understand why they want to rape people? It is not only ridiculous – it is downright dangerous!”
Ozanne is not alone in pushing for the banning of prayer for homosexuals.
“The pernicious power of prayer must be dealt with,” said Matthew Hyndman, co-founder of the Ban Conversion Therapy lobby group.
The Christian Institute wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to protest the proposal to suppress prayer, insisting it violates believers’ basic rights.
“While the Institute does not oppose a ban that protects people from harmful pseudo-medical practices, the idea that ‘gentle non-coercive prayer’ should be included in a list of illegal actions is alarming,” the letter stated. “In any event, it would violate the human rights of believers.”
Simon Calvert, the Christian Institute’s deputy director for public affairs said that Ozanne’s proposal is offensive and dangerous.
“This latest remark from Jayne Ozanne is very revealing,” Calvert said. “It shows the focus here is not about protecting people from genuinely abusive behaviour. It’s about criminalising mainstream theology that campaigners on the fringes of the church don’t agree with.”
“In Britain we worked out centuries ago that prosecuting people for praying ‘the wrong kind of prayer’ was oppressive, counter-productive and wrong,” he said. “Apparently, there are some who want to drag us back to the dark days of prosecuting people for not having the same religion.”