Saturday, March 04, 2006

Ex-gay movements

Justin has received a cease and desist letter from Exodus International for his parody of their billboard ad.

Although we have not seen the emergence of an Ex-gay movement in Ireland, there have been reports on the development of the movement in the UK. I am not aware of any reports of conversion therapy being used in Ireland either? What would be the response of the Irish lgbt movement to the establishment of conversional therapy resources/programmes here?

This week the National Lesbian and Gay Task Force in Washington released a report on the activities of ex-gay groups and those promoting conversion therapies. A pdf file of the report is available here (It is co-written by Irish-American Sean Cahill who has worked on several excellent reports on lgbt issues including lgbt ageing)

In particular this report highlights the new tactics of such groups in targeting young people and their parents in offering programs which claim to cure homosexuality.

The press release accompanying the report lists the key findings including

  • Not only does ex-gay therapy not work; there is a growing body of research documenting the harm it causes and the ethical violations it embodies, especially when applied to children against their will.
  • Ex-gay programs and conversion therapy practitioners could be shut down and even held liable for the harm they cause to clients based on malpractice, consumer fraud, false advertising, or under contract or child abuse and neglect laws, particularly for minors forced to attend an ex-gay program.
  • For decades, anti-gay leaders have portrayed homosexuality as a malign choice to support their "special rights" argument. However, that message is contradicted by theories posited by ex-gay leaders and evangelical Christian right leaders, who claim that "pre-homosexuality" develops as the result of dysfunctional relationships between parents and children, as well as child sexual abuse. These claims are based on flawed research, most of which would not withstand the scrutiny required to be published in respected, peer-reviewed academic journals.
  • A study of 202 former conversion therapy clients published in 2002 reported that 176 participants experienced significant harm, including depression, social isolation, low self-esteem, internalized homophobia and even attempted suicide.
  • The study also found ethical concerns and violations, including the use of false and prejudicial information disguised as science to convince clients that they needed treatment.
  • Perhaps because of the growing number of ex-gay leaders who have publicly "fallen off the wagon," ex-gay programs have confusing and conflicting definitions of what it means to "change" as the result of their programs. For example, Exodus International claims that "change is possible," but John Smid, director of Love In Action, has said, "There is no cure for homosexuality."
  • Ex-gay leaders also cite wildly varying and conflicting numbers of people who have "changed" as the result of their programs, ranging from "hundreds" to "hundreds of thousands."
  • Several of the groups who made submissions to the Oireachtas All Party Committee on the Constitution's recent report/hearings on the Family cited the work of leading exponents of the ex-gay movement including Dr. James Dobson .

    What worries me most is that the thoughts of this proponent of hate and harm to lesbians and gay men were included in the final report of the committee and were unchallenged or examined in anyway by the committee. Dobson is presented as a family psychologist - he is not referred to as the leader of Focus on the Family - the leading anti-gay movement in the USA. An Irish branch of Focus on the Family exists but seems lighter (or maybe more deceptive) on the anti-gay/ex-gay theme in its events/books and publications, however its submission to the all party committee quoted James Dobson liberally.

    In thinking about the work of conversion therapy movments I can't help thinking of Zach a 16 year old from Tennesee who in his blog documented how his parents were preparing to send him to a Love in Action facility for a Refuge programme to address his homosexuality. He was terrified.

    Zach entered the programme and his story received much media coverage which led to a state investigation of the programme that was later called off due to lack of evidence of abuse. However Statemental health authorities havecontinued to call for the Memphis based group to be closed.

    Zach was told to stop blogging by his parents, his previous posts were removed and one last post was made where he defended the programme and asked for people to leave him alone. One hopes that he will be able to be who he wants to be soon.

    ExGay Watch blogs about the ex-gay movement and indeed provides a criticism of the NGLTF report.


    At 20:22, Blogger straighttalker05 said...

    I do beleive my mother would be signing me up to such a program if it was readily available here.

    Belfast has a small but noisy anti-gay movement in the form of the Stop The Parade Coalition -

    At 23:18, Anonymous Justin said...

    Thanks for posting this, and double thanks for including the parody image in your post.

    At 23:29, Blogger Suzy said...

    Justin keep up the good work! Glad to spread the word!

    At 23:44, Blogger Blier Watch said...

    Excellent post!

    It's important that everyone who can, post a link or image. Maybe the Liberty Counsel will be sorry they ever said anything to Justin in the first place.

    Ya gotta know your lawyer is a screwup if the thing he's set out to accomplish ends up becoming a wildfire he can never put out for you.


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