Faith healers dangerous for public health, Amsterdam alderman claims
The City of Amsterdam and the COC — an advocacy group for LBGT men and women — are calling for an investigation by the Netherlands Health Care Inspectorate into healing rituals offered by Pentecostal churches to homosexuals and HIV patients.
Such churches are especially popular among the Antillean and Surinamese communities in Amsterdam. One church mentioned is the Ambassade van God (Embassy of God) headed by Yvette Lont, who was until recently an alderman for the ChristianUnion. She insists that people can be healed from HIV infections and from homosexuality.
This can be dangerous for the public health, warn alderman Freek Hosssel and COC leader Dennis Boutkan in a statement. The healing rituals could result in carriers of the HIV virus not taking their medicines, they say. According to Hossel and Boutkan the healing services could also contribute to the stigmatization of homosexuals. They state that Pentecostal churches such as those headed by Lont should not be able to hide behind the right to freedom of religion. The City and the COC are calling for people to file complaints.
The faith healers make use of the taboo on homosexuality in Surinamese and Antillean communities. Homo-activist Mikel Haman sees a connection between that taboo and suicides amongst young creole men.
Oct. 3, 2008 News Translation