The psychiatrist Northern Ireland MP Iris Robinson claimed could turn homosexuals straight has been named as Dr Paul Miller, who trained under the notorious Richard Cohen. Exodus International cut its ties with Cohen following a series of embarrassing TV appearances in 2006, in which he demonstrated controversial “touch therapy,” amid other ludicrous methods.

Speaking last Friday on BBC Radio Ulster, Mrs Robinson said that homosexuality was an “abomination,” and offered to refer homosexuals to the care of a psychiatrist friend who had helped gays to “turn away from what they are engaged in.”

Miller, forgetting that in science the onus is on him to prove his theories, not on others to disprove them, has now told Belfast’s News Letter that “a lot of the research has never been disproven but it has become politically unacceptable to talk about it.” He repeated Mrs Robinson’s claim that therapy could make people heterosexual:

Dr Miller – who is a former member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Board and is an honorary clinical lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast – claimed that he had seen hundreds of homosexual people become heterosexual.

“It is possible – I know these people and I’ve seen the outcome of the work in their lives so to say that it’s not possible is simply not true,” he said.

In an email to Dr Warren Throckmorton, Miller said that Richard Cohen’s training had been a “very valuable” part of preparing the church for ex-gay ministry. Miller personally organised a counseling training seminar by Cohen in Northern Ireland in 2007 (see p11). Summing up his approach to changing gays, he simply rephrased Cohen’s own statement of his philosophy:

[Miller:] First, no one is born gay because gay identity is a complex interaction between genetics and environment; second, no one chooses to experience who they are sexually attracted to; and thirdly, change in sexual orientation is possible.

[Cohen:] There is no compelling evidence that anyone is determined from birth to have same-sex attraction (SSA).

There is no conclusive scientific data that proves there is a simple biological or genetic cause for homosexuality. Scientific research indicates that although biological and genetic factors may play a part, homosexual desires stem from the complex interaction of psychological, environmental and temperamental influences along with those factors. …

No one simply chooses to have SSA.

These desires are very often the result of unresolved childhood wounds and unmet love needs. Choice is clearly involved in the decision whether or not to act on the desires. …

People can be hopeful in their choice to seek a change from a homosexual to a heterosexual orientation.

Research demonstrates that the claim that no one can change is false. Change is possible for some.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists countered Miller’s statements, saying, “Treatments that purport to change someone’s sexuality can be harmful and there is no evidence that they can be successful.”

The Northern Ireland Association for Mental Health responded less forcefully, saying the organization is “committed to improving the mental health and well being of every citizen in Northern Ireland and does not support discrimination or prejudice based on race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. The Association believes that every person has the right to chose where and how they get emotional and psychological support, personally or professionally.”

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