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 AP reported.

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 issue.

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 globe.

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.