Press Release: Protest against Evangelical Congress in Marburg

From the 20th – 24st of May 2009 the 6. International Congress for Psychotherapy and Counseling is taking place in Marburg. This year’s meeting has “Encounters between Psychotherapy and Christian Counseling in Science and in Practice” as its motto. Organized by evangelical groupings, more than one hundred different workshops will be conducted. Amongst others, topics of these workshops will regard the fields of sexuality and identity. Hiding behind the smokescreen of science, individual speakers are depicting a very conservative image of heterosexual matrimony as the one and only true way of living. Furthermore, these speakers are stigmatizing homosexuality as something pathological and undesirable.

The congress and its workshops will be taking place in public buildings such as the university’s lecture building, the city hall as well as the Martin-Luther-School. As Nora Nebenberg, member of the alliance “Kein Raum für Sexismus, Homophobie und religiösen Fundamentalismus” (transl.: No Space for Sexism, Homophobia and Religious Fundamentalism) puts it, “it’s scandalous that the university and the town of Marburg are providing an arena for such reactionary events and religious fundamentalism. We call on the town as well as the university not to provide any space for this congress. One thing is certain: If this congress takes place, it will not do so without our protest. Pathologizing same-gender sexuality is a violation of human rights.”

Evangelicalism is a conservative movement within Protestantism, standing out for its fundamental interpretation of the bible, claim on absoluteness and proselytizing but also for its striving for public influence. The weekly services of Marburg’s “Christus Treff”, a community of young Christians in Marburg, are a good example for these aspirations. Roland Werner, head of the “Christus Treff” and chairperson of the Christival, a Christian youth congress, will be speaking, as will Hanna-Barbara Gerl-Falkovitz, who, as well as several other speakers, is an advisory council member for the “Offensive Junger Christen” (OJC), the Reichenberg Fellowship’s German branch. “Understanding Homosexuality”, a workshop prepared by the OJC for the 2008 Christival in Bremen, was cancelled because of public protest. Werner and Gerl-Falkowitz both hold the view that homosexuality is a disease and thus curable. They advocate therapies that aim to convert people form homosexuality to heterosexuality, which greatly highlights their homophobic attitude. Also regarding congress’s content as a danger to lesbian and gay rights, the Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany voiced their concern in an open letter directed at the mayor of Marburg, the university’s president and the faculty of psychology’s dean.

You can find the alliance online under