The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest gay rights advocate, on Wednesday called on a Catholic diocese to end its “12 step” program for gay men.

The Catholic Diocese of Colorado Spring's just-launched Twelve Steps of Courage program is modeled after programs offered by Alcoholics Anonymous.

Participants in the program admit that they are powerless in overcoming their attractions to men, ask God for help, and make amends to those they've hurt, Colorado Springs-based The Gazette reported. The men must also admit that they are “defective.”

“The diocese should be ashamed for selling this snake-oil therapy that mental health professionals have denounced,” HRC President Joe Solmonese said in a statement. “Programs like this say they offer hope but in reality they demean and denigrate LGBT people's sense of self-worth.”

“It's not about therapy and not about activism,” Rev. Larry Brennan, diocese director of priest formation, told the paper. “It's about support.”

The Catholic Church views gay sex as sinful and Pope Benedict XVI has railed against gay relationships.

“The exercise of sexuality is reserved for marriage, and that can only happen between a man and a woman,” Brennan said.

Solmonese noted that mental health professionals have concluded that “same-sex attraction is normal and that 'reparative' therapy is unhealthy and can be harmful.”

“Homophobia, bias and discrimination are what make it difficult for people to accept and be open about their sexual orientation,” Solmonese added. “Those who wish to give counsel to people struggling with their identities should offer acceptance, not rejection.”