LONDON - You can say a lot of things in Britain. You can mock the Bible and make fun of Christians.
But as British Christian counselor Lesley Pilkington discovered, you better not suggest that homosexuals can change -- or you could lose your job.
The 60-year-old's career may be over because she tried to help a homosexual man who said he wanted to leave the gay lifestyle. The incident happened in 2009.
"I was approached by a man who said his name was Matthew Stines," she recalled. "He said he was very unhappy and he was depressed. And he wanted to leave the lifestyle and would I be able to help him?"
But his real name was not Matthews Stines. It was Patrick Strudwick, and he was lying about why he had come to her.
"To be quite honest, I totally believed everything he said," Pilkington told CBN News. "I had no reason to think anything else. He seemed very anxious. He kept asking the same questions, and I thought he was just trying to decide if this was the right therapist for him."
What she didn't know was that he was really an undercover journalist, and he had a tape recorder strapped to his body.
After two sessions, the counseling stopped, and Lesley's professional nightmare began.
"He then telephoned me to tell me that, in fact, he was not at all who he said he was," Pilkington recalled.
"His voice completely changed and he said he had just lied about everything -- his name address, his occupation; that he wasn't unhappy at all, that he was a gay journalist," she said.
"(He said) he was happy in his gay lifestyle and his purpose was to expose me and people like me," she said.
Stung by the Gay Lobby
Strudwick heads a group called the Stop Conversion Therapy Taskforce, which opposes psychological conversion therapy to help gays become straight.
He wrote about his experience with Lesley for two of Britain's largest papers.
Pilkington now faces disciplinary proceedings by the British Association for Counseling and Psychotherapy. Among her transgressions: 'Praying to God to heal (Strudwick) of his homosexuality' and having an 'agenda that homosexuality is wrong.'
She could lose her accreditation.
"Lesley Pilkington, if you believe a homosexual can change their behavior, you will lose your job; you will be disabused of your professional reputation. You will lose your professional accreditation," Andrea Williams, who heads the Christian Legal Centre, explained on how the Association views the situation. The legal group is helping Pilkington.
The gay agenda is one of the most potent political movements in the United Kingdom, even though according to one poll, there are not very many homosexuals in Britain. Only 1.5 percent of the population claims to be gay -- that's 750,000 out of a nation of 60 million people.
"There's been an incredible shift in our nation, in our media, and particularly in our law, that treats the whole homosexual agenda as something that is absolutely equivalent to race," Williams told CBN News.
Christianity in the Crosshairs
Lesley's attorney, Paul Diamond, said the movement is part of a broad agenda to overturn all traditional values on sexuality.
"They call it human rights and use wonderful sounding terms like 'tolerance' and 'acceptance,' but it's a hard-nosed political agenda -- an objective of which appears to be the removal of Judeo-Christian morality from the public realm," Diamond said.
The British government has approved a plan to insert homosexual themes throughout school curricula, even math, to help children view homosexuality as normal.
Meanwhile, the British high court has just ruled in a landmark case that Christian beliefs on sexual ethics may be harmful to children.
"It was argued the state has a duty to protect children from -- the government of Britain argued this -- from being infected with such ideas," Diamond said. "Such ideas being Judeo-Christian views on sexual morality."
One of the most risky statements you can make in Britain today, especially if you're a therapist, is that homosexuals are not born gay, or that they can become heterosexual. Following Strudwick's undercover investigation, the British Medical Association decided to brand gay conversion therapy as harmful.
"Gay people in Britain are, as they are everywhere, at risk of hate, intolerance, and persecution," Strudwick told CBN News.
"There is no empirical evidence conversion therapy works," he said. "There is plenty of evidence that conversion therapy does damage."
He added that "love needs no cure."
'Bible Backs Conversion Therapy'
However, Diamond and Pilkington say conversion therapy does work.
"People do change after treatment and there is no harm," Diamond said. "That is actually the evidence."
"The science actually backs up the Word of God," Pilkington said. "And you are not born that way. And I would like people who are in a homosexual lifestyle and are unhappy to know that and to hear that message."
As Pilkington waits to see if she will be banned from ever counseling again, she says God is taking her through this experience, and using it in people's lives.
"I feel it has given me an opportunity to speak to those who are in the homosexual lifestyle but are unhappy," she said.
"And really the message is you're not born that way," she continued. "You don't have to stay in that lifestyle. There is hope. It's a really important message, that there is hope."
--Originally published March 9, 2011.