The Health4Men sexual health project says that homosexuality is not an illness that needs to be cured, as was suggested by a Pretoria Church’s recent billboard.

“In our predominantly Christian society, such messaging dangerously suggests that gay people are ‘evil’,” said Health4Men in a media statement.

“This message normalises acts of discrimination and violence in the context of ongoing hate crimes committed against gay people in South Africa that range from verbal taunting to rape and murder, on the basis of their sexual orientation.”

Health4Men, a project of the Anova Health Institute, provides free sexual healthcare to men who have sex with men (MSM), irrespective of their sexual orientation.

It noted that “homosexuality is not an illness. It is a very natural variance in the highly complex, fluid and nuanced construct of human sexuality. Since it is not an illness it does not require any form of cure. Indeed, it cannot be ‘cured’”.

Health4Men said that homophobic and prejudiced sentiments such as those expressed on the Light of the Nations billboard “facilitate stigma and discrimination against gay men” and feed “a dysfunctional sense of shame and guilt” among these men.

“In this regard the billboard negates intense efforts by organisations such as Health4Men to address sexual health concerns among MSM (including HIV) by promoting a healthy sense of self.”

It demanded that the Church apologise to the gay community for the harm caused.

In the last week, complaints were laid with the Advertising Standards Authority and the South African Human Rights Commission about the billboard, which equated homosexuality with social ills and suggested that these can be ‘cured’ through the Christian faith.

The Church has since removed the word “homosexual” from the billboard but has failed to apologise for its actions.

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