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Last Updated: Sunday, 9 November, 2003, 17:00 GMT
No charges for bishop in gay row
Bishop Peter Forster
Rt Rev Dr Peter Forster is to be questioned by police
A bishop who suggested gay people should seek medical help to reorientate their sexuality will not be prosecuted it's been revealed.

The Rt Rev Dr Peter Forster, Bishop of Chester, was questioned by Cheshire Constabulary over statements made in a newspaper on Friday.

He is reported to have said that some people who are "primarily homosexual" can "reorientate themselves" with the help of psychiatrists.

"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," he commented in the Chester Chronicle.

Cheshire Constabulary spoke to the bishop after receiving a complaint about the comments from a member of the public.

But on Monday evening, a police spokesman confirmed that no action would be taken .

He said: "The Crown Prosecution Service has been consulted at length and the Cheshire constabulary is satisfied that no criminal offences have been committed.

"Current public order legislation does not provide specific offences based on sexuality."

The Bishop of Chester whose diocese takes in Cheshire, Wirral, Stockport, south Tameside and south Trafford, was unavailable for comment.

"Limits"

In previous statements he has said it is important to act with compassion towards gays and lesbians.

In a speech he made in June, he said: "I favour a reasonably tolerant, pastoral approach in the life of the Church to those who find themselves with homosexual feelings, and drawn into homosexual relationships.

"But there has to be limits."

Dr Forster's prejudices will not be solved by a visit to the doctor, nor will lesbian and gay people go away and get 'cured' to help him live with them
Richard Kirker, Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement

Dr Forster sits on a church body which recently produced a discussion paper called Some Issues in Human Sexuality, which examined homosexuality.

He was one of nine bishops who wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams condemning the appointment of the celibate gay canon Jeffrey John as Bishop of Reading who later bowed to pressure and stood down before he was consecrated.

Dr Forster, who is married with four children, also opposed the appointment of the openly gay Gene Robinson as the Bishop of New Hampshire, USA.

"Homosexuality"

Dr Forster's comments have led to an angry response from a number of gay and lesbian Christians.

Rev Richard Kirker, General Secretary of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, condemned the bishops comments saying they were "inflammatory and offensive".

He said: "It is those who think like Dr Forster - not gays and lesbians who have a problem.

"Psychiatrists and doctors have long since abandoned any belief that homosexuality is an illness that could be cured.

"Only Christian fundamentalists devote their energies in this direction.

"Dr Forster's prejudices will not be solved by a visit to the doctor, nor will lesbian and gay people go away and get 'cured' to help him live with them."

The worldwide Anglican community is facing a split over the issue of gay clergy.




SEE ALSO:
Bishop: Gays should see a doctor
08 Nov 03  |  Merseyside
Church explores gay debate
04 Nov 03  |  UK
Unity plea over gay bishop
03 Nov 03  |  South West Wales


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