Church of England bishops in the UK have overwhelmingly backed a motion calling for a ban on “unethical” conversion therapy for gay Christians.

Being gay is not a sickness or a sin, the church’s General Synod heard on Saturday as it debated and voted on a private member’s motion.

Christian gay rights campaigner Jayne Ozanne’s motion called on the C of E to endorse a statement branding the therapy “potentially harmful” with “no place in the modern world”, signed by professional bodies including the Royal College of GPs and the UK Council for Psychotherapy in January.

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, said during the debate: “The sooner the practice of so-called conversion therapy is banned, I can sleep at night.”

The vote sends out a strong message to the world that the church does not see homosexuality as a crime, said Bishop of Liverpool Paul Bayes.

“As the world listens to us the world needs to hear us say that LGBTI+ orientation and identity is not a crime,” he said.

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