Telegraph Group Limited 10/11/2003
A bishop who angered homosexuals by suggesting they seek a psychiatric cure is to be investigated by police to see if his outspoken views amount to a criminal offence, it emerged yesterday.
The Rt Rev Dr Peter Forster, the Bishop of Chester, infuriated homosexuals both in and out of the Church of England when he said last week that they could and should seek medical help to "reorientate" themselves.
The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (the LGCM) accused him of putting forward an "offensive" and "scandalous" argument from a bygone age.
Cheshire Police have said that they are to investigate his comments, made in the local paper, the Chester Chronicle, after receiving a complaint that his views may incite people to turn against homosexuals.
In a statement released by the force, Assistant Chief Constable Graeme Gerrard said: "We are aware of the article in the Chester Chronicle and have received a complaint.
"We will examine the issues raised in the complaint and will speak to the reporter and the Bishop of Chester before considering any further action." A spokesman for the force added that it would send a copy of the article to the Crown Prosecution Service to see if any offence had been committed.
The bishop, who has in the past attacked the immorality of Britain and the ordination of homosexual bishops, spoke out after spending 18 months helping to write the Church of England report “Some Issues in Human Sexuality - A Guide to Debate.”
He told the newspaper that his research had led him to believe that homosexuals should seek medical help.
He said: "Some people who are primarily homosexual can reorientate themselves. I would encourage them to consider that as an option, but I would not set myself up as a medical specialist on the subject - that's in the area of psychiatric health."
Martin Reynolds, the communication director of the LGCM, welcomed the investigation into what he described as "scandalous" views. "These are irresponsible remarks that could inflame latent homophobia," he said.
"I am sure that the bishop is a very gentle man and his views are sincere. But many people in history who are gentle and sincere have said things that are evil.
"If he wants to say that homosexuality is a sin then he is entitled to his views but to say it is a psychiatric disorder is wrong.
The Public Order Act 1986 covers so called hate crimes, which the Metropolitan Police define as "abusing people because of their race, faith, religion or disability - or because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transsexual".