A far-right pastor and conspiracy theorist has claimed that suicide among gay people is prevalent because of guilt and self-loathing.
Kent Christmas, an anti-LGBTQ televangelist who spread the lie that Donald Trump won the 2020 election, told his followers that gay people “hate” being gay, Right Wing Watch reports.
Failing to cite any sources or statistics, Christmas claimed that the shame of being gay led people to die by suicide.
“Can I tell you how my heart goes out to the homosexual community because there are so many of them,” Christmas said. “Suicide amongst the homosexual community is one of the highest rates of suicide of anything in the Earth.
“In part, it is because of the guilt. They know that it’s not right, but they are bound and they hate doing it.”
Right-wing pastor (and Dan Flashes aficionado) Kent Christmas says that "suicide amongst the homosexuality community" is prevalent "because of the guilt": "They know that it's not right, but they are bound and they hate doing it." pic.twitter.com/SjiVXxce4Z
— Right Wing Watch (@RightWingWatch) September 30, 2021
Christmas’ offensive claims contain one element of truth: suicide rates among LGBTQ people are higher than for non-LGBTQ people.
However, while Christmas is attempting to to push religion as a solution, researchers have previously pointed to minority stress and discrimination as reasons for why LGBTQ people report higher rates of negative mental health factors, suicidal ideation, and attempted suicide.
Discrimination, anti-LGBTQ animus or violence, and attempts by lawmakers to pass anti-LGBTQ laws or hinder the progress of equality can all contribute to suicidal ideation among LGBTQ people, particularly LGBTQ youth.
Last month, Christmas gave a sermon where he appeared to advocate for harmful conversion therapy — a widely debunked practice that claims to change a person’s sexuality or gender identity.
Christmas lamented an increase in the number of Christian children coming out as a gay — or, in his words, being “taken over by homosexuality” — something he blamed on a “demonic spirit that comes after our seed.”
Christmas then said that, rather than tell gay people that they are “scum,” he was going to “change them by the power of the Holy Ghost.”
Unfortunately, Christmas’ purported concern for gay people dying by suicide falls apart given that conversion therapy, which he seems to support, can directly increase the risk of suicide among gay and bisexual adults.
Research last year found that gay and bisexual people who experience conversion therapy are twice as likely to think about and attempt suicide as peers who haven’t experienced the harmful practice.
And this year, The Trevor Project found that LGBTQ youth who had been subjected to conversion therapy reported attempting suicide at more than twice the rate of those who hadn’t experienced the harmful practice.
Last year, the United Nations urged a global ban on conversion therapy, labelling it “cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment” and saying it “may amount to torture depending on the circumstances.” In December, more than 370 religious leaders from around the globe called on lawmakers to ban conversion therapy.
In addition, a number of former “ex-gay” leaders, who touted the efficacy of conversion therapy in attempts to force others to undergo the practice, have since come out as gay and decried the practice, admitting the harm it can cause to LGBTQ people.
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