The Cyprus psychiatric association this week recommended its members respect the gender identity and sexual orientation of their patients, following reports over incidents of conversion therapy.

The statement came only a week or so after it was revealed to MPs that priests were forcing children and adults into hormone and other conversion therapy treatments, which remain legal in Cyprus, with the aim of changing their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Even more unbelievable was the revelation that priests had also carried out exorcisms on LGBT people, the legal affairs committee heard. It’s hard to believe we’re talking about the 21st century and not a bad horror movie, the Middle Ages or 1950s Bible Belt America.

They may not be giving LGBT people lobotomies like a few decades ago, but there is no question that drugs and hormones are being used, in addition to psychological and behavioural manipulation that can leave people more distressed, confused and even suicidal. Barbaric is really the only word for it.

There is a bill currently under discussion in the House that proposes to ban conversion therapy and criminalise it. Church representatives have been invited to the next committee meeting to give their views. They really should not be there unless the committee intends to give them a good grilling, which is highly unlikely.

It’s incomprehensible why the Church should be allowed yet again to air its well-known and very unchristian opinions on homosexuality and make Cyprus into a laughing stock abroad, as the Bishop of Morphou has done on several occasions in the past with his shameless and odious views.

As for the Cyprus psychiatric association, interestingly, its announcement addressing its own members indicates there is a problem there and that some psychiatrists might even be on board with conversion therapy. This is worrying and indicates some may be under the influence of the Church.

Psychiatrists are dealing with vulnerable people who might easily be bullied into going against their own nature, causing them all sorts of angst and guilt if they fail to somehow ‘convert to heterosexuality’. Psychiatrists need to be above reproach and their religious views should not enter into it.

These days gender issues in general are a minefield and much could be said about what’s happening on both sides of the fence and where groups engaged in identity politics often come into conflict even among themselves, never mind with the ‘cis’ population.

However, what there should be no room for is bullying and coercion, no matter which side of an argument it’s coming from or what form it takes, be it from government, parliament, Church or individual groups. This is what the Church should be preaching, not hate and prejudice. All it ever does, charity work aside, is show by its views an utter lack of understanding of what Christianity is all about.