Report Criticizes 'Cure' for Gays; Says Orientation Change Efforts Can Be Harmful

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), August 7, 2009 | Go to article overview

Report Criticizes 'Cure' for Gays; Says Orientation Change Efforts Can Be Harmful


Byline: Julia Duin, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The American Psychological Association has released a groundbreaking report disparaging religious efforts to cure homosexual orientation, an implied rebuke to religions that teach against homosexuality.

Called Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation, the 138-page document is the organization's strongest criticism to date on religious groups that claim homosexual acts are sinful and that gay tendencies can be cured.

There is a growing body of evidence that sexual stigma, manifested as prejudice or discrimination directed at non-heterosexual orientations and identities, is a major source of stress for sexual minorities, the report began.

The culprit?

Moral and religious values in North America and Europe [that over centuries] provided the initial rationale for criminalization, discrimination and prejudice against same-sex behaviors, said the report, which was two years in the making and included references to 83 studies.

The report's findings were approved by a 125-4 vote this week by the APA's governing council in advance of its annual meeting this weekend in Toronto.

It touched on an issue that has long consumed public figures in the religious world, ranging from former Colorado megachurch pastor Ted Haggard, who in November 2006 lost his job after he admitted to soliciting sex from a male prostitute, to New Hampshire Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson, the world's first openly gay bishop, who tried changing his orientation in his 20s.

The report named members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, evangelical Christians and Orthodox Jews as examples of devout people battling same-sex attractions. Most of the people studied were well-educated white men who had tried psychotherapy, support groups and other religious methods in their efforts to change their sexuality.

The paper focused on such sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE), also known as reparative therapy.

Some individuals perceived they had benefited from SOCE, the report said, and believed that it helped them live in a manner consistent with their faith.

But individuals who failed to change sexual orientation, while believing they should have changed with such efforts, described their experiences as a significant cause of emotional and spiritual distress and negative self-image, it added.

Moreover, there is no research showing that providing SOCE to children and adolescents has an impact on adult sexual orientation, the report said.

The report was compiled by a six-member task force that admitted to a built-in bias that same-sex sexual attractions, behavior and orientations per se are normal and positive variants of human sexuality and are not indicators of either mental or developmental disorders.

The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) said the task force was stacked with gay or gay-friendly activists who would naturally conclude that reparative therapy does not work.

No APA member who offers reorientation therapy was allowed to join the task force, said David Pruden, NARTH vice president. In fact, one can make the case that every member of the task force can be classified as an activist. They selected and interpreted studies that fit within their innate and immutable view.

Task force Chairwoman Judith Glassgold, a New Jersey psychologist, is on the board of the Journal of Gay and Lesbian Psychology, NARTH said, and was president of Division 44, APA's gay caucus, in 2003-2004. …

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