No tax break in work to 'cure' homosexuals

BY BEN HEATHER
Last updated 05:00 30/08/2010

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A Christian trust that claims to be able to "cure" homosexuality has been declined charitable status.

The Exodus Ministries Trust Board is affiliated with the United States-based Exodus Global Alliance, which claims "change in homosexuality is possible through the power of Jesus Christ".

The New Zealand trust appears to keep a low profile, but also claims its members work with churches to counsel and "cure" homosexuals.

Exodus Ministries has had charitable status, exempting it from income tax, for more than a decade but the status was removed by the Charities Commission this month under a regime introduced in 2007.

The commission said the trust was not performing any public benefit because homosexuality was not a mental disorder and did not need curing.

The commission noted that the American Psychological Association said there was little scientific evidence to show that homosexuality could be "cured" and attempts to do so could cause harm.

The trust argued it had a legitimate point of view and provided support to homosexuals during "very difficult times". It said gay support organisations, such as Rainbow Youth, had been granted charitable status.

Rainbow Youth executive director Tom Hamilton said he was not aware of Exodus in New Zealand but there were similar church-based "curing" programmes.

"It is very worrying for us," he said.

Exodus board members could not be contacted.

Since 2007, the commission has struck off or rejected more than 2600 prospective charities and is now locked in multiple legal battles defending its decisions.

It has declined 1406 organisations while another 1224 have been deregistered for being too political, too commercial or not having the required paperwork.

Most organisations that apply to the commission are accepted, so far nearly 25,000, but increasingly they are later deregistered, with 978 struck off this year so far.

Ten aspiring charities have tried to overturn decisions in the High Court and the commission has spent nearly $100,000 defending itself.

The Canterbury Development Corporation and Education New Zealand Trust have gone to the Court of Appeal.

Greenpeace New Zealand was declined in April for being too political and will argue its case in the High Court in November.

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- The Press

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