Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Could the "Ex-Gay" Movement be Moving to Uganda?

The disastrous effects of “ex-gay” or “conversion” therapy are well known in the LGBT community. Research has shown that the therapy does not work in converting a gay person into a straight person and, moreover, is psychologically harmful to those who are put through it. If you have been to our national convention in 2007 or our 2009 annual meeting, you got to hear the heartbreaking, first-hand account from our staff who infiltrated a Love Won Out convention.

Until recently conversion therapy was uniquely American. Now we are getting word that therapists in Britain have been inspired by these American “conversions” and are introducing this harmful practice to the United Kingdom. The Advocate is reporting that “Professor Michael King of University College London is one of six UK psychiatrists and psychotherapists who have sought to reduce or change a patient’s sexual orientation. And with the help of the American conversion therapy movement, practitioners in the UK, along with a clutch of international “conversion” organizations, are becoming unified and coordinated. They plan to gain credibility, university backing, and government funding. In some cases, the NHS (National Health Service) is even paying for the treatment.”

British journalist Patrick Strudwick, who is gay, went undercover for several months with conversion therapists. According to Strudwick, “I asked [one of the therapists] how she views homosexuality – as a mental illness, an addiction, or an anti-religious phenomenon? ‘It’s all of that,’ she replies. And then we pray. ‘Oh Father, we give you permission to work in Matthew’s (Patrick’s undercover name) life to bring complete light and healing into every part of his being.’ After asking God to heal me, she opens her eyes. ‘I know the boundaries to keep within.’”

[To read the entirety of Patrick’s journey in “conversion” therapy, click here.]

This leaves us wondering: if this practice is being admired by those in London, will conversion therapy spread elsewhere? One place where we are keeping an eye out is Uganda, a country that has recently proposed a violent and inhumane bill in regards to the treatment of its LGBT citizens. According to the bill:

• Gays and lesbians convicted of having gay sex would be sentenced, at a minimum, to life in prison
• People who tested positive for HIV may be executed
• Gays and lesbians who have sex with a minor or who engage in gay sex more than once may receive the death penalty
• Organizations that work in HIV/AIDS prevention would not be banned for “promoting homosexuality”
• Anyone who knows of homosexual activity taking place but doesn’t report it would risk up to three years in prison

Homosexuality in Uganda is already illegal. This bill is overkill. But it could also become the next breeding ground for the “ex-gay” movement. Is it illogical to think that “conversion” therapists won’t seize upon this opportunity of a entire nation in fear to impart their agenda and “expertise” at ridding the body of same-sex attraction? We certainly hope not.

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