Gretha Wiid’s claim that homosexuality is a developmental aberration caused by an unloving father, which can be cured if caught in time, has gone viral.
Wiid is a popular public speaker, lay preacher and relationship ‘expert’ in the Afrikaans community and has been described as a female version of controversial preacher Angus Buchan.
She and her husband have appeared in numerous magazines as a supposedly shining example of Christian ideals. She also sells various products on her website, including relationship, teen and family advice books and even her own perfumes (In2Him for women and Inspire for men).
This week, a Facebook post highlighting a section in one of Wiid’s books advising parents on homosexuality outraged the LGBTQ community. In it, she writes:
“Some say that gay people are born gay. That’s something I disagree with. I believe with my whole heart that God made men and women to love each other…”
Wiid goes on to outline the bizarre theory that homosexuality comes about because young boys are not loved by their fathers or are beaten and treated badly and thus develop feelings of hurt and pain towards other men.
“They will therefore not want to be like men who prove their masculinity through muscles and strength. These boys also withdraw from the group (and don’t want to be part of the boys’ group at school). Many of these boys feel that they are different and believe at the end of the day that they are gay.”
Wiid explains further: “I believe with my whole heart that such boys could one day be wonderful husbands to their wives, but they did not speak to someone about these things in time – before it is too late.”
She also writes that some boys are teased by other children “because they play the piano or chess and don’t like things like rugby. They begin to call these boy moffies (faggots) from an early age…”
It is not clear what qualifications Wiid has to be able to make these assertions or to give advice and counselling to people.
The book excerpt was met with disbelief and anger from members of the LGBTQ community. Activist Christina Engela commented: “Gretha Wiid has obviously gone beyond the effort of NOT researching sexual orientation or gender identity issues to simply spout her own bigoted, ignorant and biased views on LGBT people.”
Makeup artist and drag performer Bernard Buys added: “Really Gretha Wiid? People like you are the problem in this world! I come from a very normal and loving home. What’s your explanation on it? #Justasking #GrethaWiid”
Enrique Grobbelaar said he’d lodged a complaint with the SA Human Rights Commission “about the rubbish that Gretha Wiid is teaching our youth about the LGBT community”.
Like Buchan, who runs ‘Mighty Men’ conferences, Wiid hosts ‘Worthy Women’ events that assert the primacy of the man in marriage and that relationships must be based on Biblical values. Like Buchan, she believes that homosexuality is sinful.
She also endorses Buchan’s view that through prayer, gay people can be converted to heterosexuality. The book excerpt indicates that she supports these interventions among LGBTQ youth.
Melanie Nathan, the US-based South African-born mediator and Executive Director of the African Human Rights Coalition, sent Widd a letter urging her to apologise and to revise her publication.
“Our organisation was constructed as a direct result of the persecution caused by Christian Evangelicals, who in the name of Jesus and God invoke lies and myths which have resulted in the direct persecution of LGBT people,” said Nathan.
She continued: “What makes your publication even more insidious is the fact it’s directed to parents, who are often on the frontline of the love and care needed to nurture children/teens when they come out. You direct your work at these parents who, when believing homosexuality is a choice, often kick kids out of their homes, resulting very often in homelessness and worse yet, suicide.”
Well known Pretoria attorney and LGBTQ activist Coenie Kukkuk told Mambaonline that he’d had enough of the bigoted and dangerous views promoted by evangelists like Wiid.
He noted that “gay cure” conversion therapy targeting minors is banned in several states in the US and in Malta, “yet people like Angus Buchan and Gretha Wiid espouse it on every possible corner in South Africa”.
He pointed out that LGBTQ rights, “implying the right to NOT be attempted to be so-called ‘converted’, are entrenched in the Constitution”.
Kukkuk argued that, “Conversion therapy should be a crime in South Africa and hopefully the courts will put an end to it”.
For an academic view of Wiid’s ideology, click here.