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.”