One of the most extreme religious-right groups in Texas is rushing to defend the state Republican Party for adopting a platform last week that supports discredited “reparative therapy,” which seeks to convert or “cure” gay people.
Medical experts and professional associations have condemned “reparative therapy” as abusive quackery that seriously endangers the mental health and physical well-being of those who suffer through it. The American Psychiatric Association, for example, notes that this “therapy” is not supported by scientific evidence and actually harms people:
“The potential risks of reparative therapy are great, including depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient. Many patients who have undergone reparative therapy relate that they were inaccurately told that homosexuals are lonely, unhappy individuals who never achieve acceptance or satisfaction. The possibility that the person might achieve happiness and satisfying interpersonal relationships as a gay man or lesbian is not presented, nor are alternative approaches to dealing with the effects of societal stigmatization discussed.
Therefore, the American Psychiatric Association opposes any psychiatric treatment, such as reparative or conversion therapy which is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon the a priori assumption that the patient should change his/her sexual homosexual orientation.”
But Texas Values, the lobby arm of Plano-based Liberty Institute, has thrown its support behind the Texas GOP Platform and is condemning criticism of what it says is voluntary therapy:
“[O]ne is left to think Republicans in Texas are supporting mandatory, forced therapy to force gays to become straight. The stories you have read are false. The Texas GOP simply adopted a straight forward plank that protects freedom and parental rights by allowing Texans to seek the counseling they desire, free from government interference…. [G]overnment should not ban access to this type of therapy when it is voluntarily sought…. Texans believe in freedom and reject attempts by government to interfere in the decisions of parents, counselors, and minors seeking healing from homosexual desires that do no align with their faith, conscience or values.
Horse manure. This discredited “therapy” isn’t voluntary when parents force their gay children to submit to it. That’s a big reason why two states have barred this kind of abuse of minors. Additional states are considering such legislation.
The anti-gay extremists at Texas Values want to portray their support for “reparative therapy” as being about “freedom,” but it’s not. It’s about promoting ignorance and bigotry over research and real facts. Even more damning: it’s about promoting psychological abuse in the service of a hateful ideological agenda.