In an astonishing 125 to 4 vote the
American Psychological Association (APA) approved a resolution
Wednesday that repudiates reparative therapy, the controversial
gay-to-straight treatment also known as “pray away the gay,” the
The resolution was adopted by the APA's
governing council during its annual conference in Toronto after
reviewing the findings of a comprehensive report on the subject.
The small but vocal group of religious
conservatives who champion the therapy say it is evidence that being
gay is a choice. They've also fostered a polarizing debate on the
The report suggests therapists abandon
efforts to alter the sexuality of gay and lesbian people, adding that
some research suggests such efforts could be harmful, and instead
focus on the positives of being gay.
“Both sides have to educate
themselves better,” Judith Glassgold, a psychologist who chaired
the six-member task force that wrote the report, told the AP. “The
religious psychotherapists have to open up their eyes to the
potential positive aspects of being gay or lesbian. Secular
therapists have to recognize that some people will choose their faith
over their sexuality.”
At the heart of the therapy is the
notion that being gay is a choice, and sexuality can be returned to
its “normal” state, mostly through religious means. Claims gay
activists have long denied, arguing that being gay is an immutable
characteristic, much like eye color.
At stake are the civil rights of
millions of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people around the
The possibility of removing same-sex
attractions has armed anti-gay groups with the argument that there is
no such thing as a gay or lesbian person, only straight people who
have chosen to be sinful, and will often compare gay people to an
addict in need of help.
Alan Chambers, president of the
Christian-based group Exodus International, the largest group to
champion the possibility of altering human sexuality, said he was
happy with the report's respect of faith-based groups, but disagreed
with its conclusions.
“Don't deny the possibility that
someone's feelings might change,” Chambers told the AP.
But in an interview published before
the report's release, Chambers admitted as much as defeat, saying
that being “ex-gay” is unnatural, a “hard road” and that the
nagging “temptations” never end.
“The truth is, I'm in denial, but it
is self-denial,” Chambers told the Christian-based website Citizen
Link. “... What I've found is that my freedom, and the freedom
of those who've left homosexuality, was centered around denying what
might come naturally to us … there is a way out for those who want
it, but it doesn't say that they are going into heterosexuality.”
“If one reads through all the
convoluted double talk, Chambers is essentially letting potential
clients know that they should have very low expectations of what
Exodus has to offer,” Wayne Besen, executive director of Truth Wins
Out, a group he set up to fight the “ex-gay” movement, said in a
blog post at the group's website.
“Exodus is basically a support group
for suppressing sexuality.”
“The APA deserves credit for taking
'ex-gay' therapists to task for twisting the truth and holding them
accountable for their scare tactics, such as claiming that there are
no happy gay people,” Besen added.