No more subsidy for Christian 'gay cure' group
An orthodox Christian organisation that claims to promote gay interests will no longer be eligible for government subsidy, the Dutch minister for education, culture and equality Ronald Plasterk told parliament on Thursday.
The minister said that the Onze Weg (Our Way) foundation was in fact attempting to 'cure' homosexuality. Protecting minority interests is part of Plasterk's portfolio.
Earlier in the week Plasterk had defended his decision to subsidise the organisation, prompted by written questions from two opposition members of parliament. Boris van der Ham of the left-wing liberal party D66 and Anouchka van Miltenburg of right-wing liberal VVD, quoted an article in the Revu weekly that claimed the group is targeting homosexuals in order to alter their sexual orientation. The organisation is mainly active among evangelical Christians and was granted a 50,000 euro subsidy in September 2008.
The education ministry asked the foundation for an explanation, which it provided in a letter to the minister. Plasterk said that: "The organisation is transgressing the limits by devoting itself to curing homosexuality. Our subsidy is intended to promote an open discussion of homosexuality among orthodox Christians. It is out of the question that we support clubs that advocate helping people to get rid of their homosexual feelings."
In its letter Onze Weg wrote that believing in Jesus Christ can lead to "a reduction in the intensity of homosexual feelings, which for some may result in a change towards heterosexuality." Plasterk acknowledges that the foundation says that such a change is not the result it is aiming for.
The article in Revu also accused another foundation of wanting to 'cure' gays. The 'RefoAnders' foundation, whose name translates as 'Reformed Protestant, but different', has also been requested to provide detailed information about its aims and activities.
In all, government subsidies to Christian gay groups, ranging from liberal to orthodox, amount to 450,000 euros. The education ministry has not reported any plans for further investigations into whether subsidised gay organisations engage in therapy or prayer to cure people of homosexuality.