Long before HIV, some have argued and will continue to argue that homosexuality is a curable disease. An alarming trend is coming back to South Africa. The practice of reparative therapy—the idea that homosexuality is a disease and can be cured through medical therapy—is a deadly concept. This fallacy continues to get promoted in pockets of the United States and the world, despite being debunked by science. At least two faith leaders are bringing back reparative therapy to South Africa.
Controversial South African-based pastor Hamilton Nala announced that his faith water can cure any man or woman of homosexuality. “Whoever wants to take me to court for this can go ahead, as far as I know in South Africa there is a constitution that says I have a right to my opinion,” Nala told local reporters. “Everyone who comes to this place comes because they believe in my opinion and my beliefs.” The pastor is frequently photographed sitting in a purple and gold throne, adorned with sequins and accessories. Nala claims he was anointed by God to do this work in his live broadcast on Facebook. "It is my belief that God would not create a woman with breasts and a womb just for decoration purposes, so that you can take it out when you want,” he added, probably referring to the global transgender movement.
Shortly after getting wind of his faith water, a group of LGBT activists protested outside of Nala Mandate International near Durban. Hlengiwe Buthelezi, chairperson of KZN LGBT Recreation, worries that Hamilton's claims imply that he is “mightier than God” by claiming to change a person's nature. KZN LGBT Recreation is a South African organization that promotes LGBT inclusion in arts and culture.
One young man, Mthokozisi Mtetwa, said that this kind of rhetoric could take South Africa back to its days when homosexuals were accused of being possessed with demons. South African LGBT advocates have worked hard to carve out a dignified place in society, with gay villages popping up—a rarity in the continent of Africa.
The news gets scarier. South African Cardinal Wilfrid Napier tweeted that he'd begun reading 'Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality: A New Clinical Approach,' on August 1. The book was writtend by the late Joseph Nicolosi, and offers help to “non-gay” homosexuals, whatever that means. Cardinal Napier then tweeted again "all three great pioneers of psychiatry ... ," then clarified, “The 'the great pioneers' mentioned above are Freud, Jung and Adler.” In the past, Cardinal Napier has criticized the Supreme Court ruling to same sex marriage Obergefell v. Hodges as well as abortion rights.
Cardinal Napier's stance is a far cry from the stance of German Cardinal Reinhard Marx, who called for the Catholic church to apologize for the way the LGBT community was treated. A growing number of U.S. States and one Canadian province have banned the practice of reparation therapy.
The Human Rights Campain (HRC) has repeatedly warned about the dangers and lies of reparative therapy. Meanwhile, in America, reparative therapy is making a comeback as well. An opinion piece in TIME Magazine a year ago by Garrard Conley described the GOP's support of reparative therapy as a “death sentence.” Conley is author of the novel Boy Erased. Psychologists and scientists agree, homosexuality cannot be cured.
The rhetoric getting pushed from clergy in South Africa only adds to the nation's generally murderous treatment of homosexuals. South Africa also, of course, holds the largest profile HIV epidemic in the world with 7 million people with the disease. These kinds of attitudes push LGBT men and women into further isolation which in turn inflames the nation's HIV crisis and distracts scientists from actual diseases.