A former member of the Exclusive Brethren says he was encouraged to seek medical treatment to suppress his sexuality and prescribed a drug used to treat sex offenders.
Craig Hoyle grew up among the Brethren in Invercargill, New Zealand, and battled to accept his sexuality as a result of the group’s teaching.
At age 18 he confessed his sexuality to a Brethren minister, and said he was brought to the attention of a Bretheren leader on a tour of NZ Brethren congregations.
Hoyle claims the Brethren leader suggested he speak to a senior Brethren who was a doctor and cousin to the sect leader.
“[He] said there’s medication you can go on for these things,” Hoyle said.
Hoyle said he met with this doctor the following day.
“The concept that was explained to me was that homosexuality could be changed but that you couldn’t change it yourself.
“You just had to hold out on faith that maybe one day God would change you,” Hoyle said.
After running away from the Invercargill Brethren, Hoyle was sent to Australia.
He claims his hosts in Sydney were in regular contact with Brethren leader who, through them, told him of a doctor he should see.
Hoyle claims the doctor prescribed Cyprostat, a libido suppressant given to prostate cancer patients and sex offenders.
Hoyle claims the drug’s side effects were not explained to him, nor were the conditions for which it was approved for use — merely that it would suppress his sexual urges.
“I was only 18. I was following instructions. I genuinely believed these leaders were right and that I had to do everything they said.”
Hoyle stopped using the drug after two weeks and admits he was not pressured to continue taking it when his host became aware of this.
Hoyle later returned to Invercargill. He came out to his family this year and told Brethren leaders he was no longer interested in going to church.
He claims he then discovered Brethren leaders were to explain his departure as being for the ‘defilement of young people’ — supposedly referring to his coming out to his siblings.
“I felt this was an attempt to sling mud over my name without actually revealing the true issue at stake,” Hoyle said.
He said they later relented, changing the wording to ‘evil communications’.
Since leaving the Brethren, Hoyle’s parents and siblings refuse to speak to him, and he lost his job at the family business.
He has discovered that Cyprostat is a drug used to treat sex offenders, which he says makes him feel “violated, betrayed”.
The chair of the Australian Medical Association’s Ethics and Medico-Legal Committee, Dr Peter Ford, told the Star doctors should only prescribe medicines where a patient was suffering from an actual illness.
“In the medical profession, homosexuality is recognised as form of sexual orientation, not a mental illness,” Ford said.
“Doctors should not discriminate against any patient based on the patient’s sexuality.
“Doctors should only prescribe medicines based on the health needs of the patient.”
A spokesman for the Exclusive Brethren denied the events took place as described by Hoyle and said any meetings between Hoyle and a medical practitioner were a matter between Hoyle and that doctor alone.