Sunday, April 21, 2013

Mental Health Groups Condemn Church "Ex-Gay" Programs

Any frequent reader of this blog knows that I have open contempt for so-called "ex-gay" ministries and the charlatans who run them for several reasons.  The first is that these programs are totally fraudulent and, in my view, are supported by anti-gay forces solely for the reason that they help perpetuate the myth that sexual orientation is a choice and/or that it is changeable.  The second reason is that these programs damage the lives of gays forced into them and can and do lead to suicides.  Every legitimate medical and mental health association in America condemns them.  Yet the Christianists continue to market their anti-gay lies.  And these programs are not limited to America.  American Christofascists have exported them overseas, especially to other English speaking countries.  In Australia, mental health groups are speaking out to condemn the programs and the church affiliated organizations that continue to disseminate the lies that are the stock in trade of these organizations.  A piece in The Age looks at the evils of these programs:

Beyondblue and other mental health groups say Australia's Christian leaders should be doing more to reduce high rates of suicide and self-harm among gay and lesbian parishioners, and criticised attempts to ''cure'' homosexuals.

The national depression agency's chief executive, Kate Carnell, wants churches to take responsibility for the damage caused when gay members are rejected or encouraged to undergo ''conversion'' programs.

It comes after Fairfax Media last week reported on growing concern about ''gay religious suicide'' following the death of Damien Christie, a homosexual man who was rejected by his Pentecostal church and took his life.

Friends say the 43-year-old never recovered from being told his sexuality was a ''sickness'' that could be cured during ''gay conversion'' therapy at a Melbourne Christian ministry.

''The evidence is solid that you're not going to be able to make people something they're not and if they're gay that's who they are,'' Ms Carnell said. ''Clearly, aversion therapies are not scientific, they don't work.''

Chris Tanti, head of youth mental health foundation headspace, said the main fear young people face when coming out is not being accepted.  ''If their background is one of support they're generally fine and they realise their full potential, but if their family context is hostile and they have the religious overlay on top of that and they're isolated, it's a recipe for disaster,'' Mr Tanti said.

''I'd like to see the churches take the position that psychiatrists took many, many years ago and that is it's not an illness, it is quite natural for some people to be same-sex-attracted.  ''They need to take a contemporary position on sexuality.''

Not surprisingly, both Catholic and Baptist church officials referenced in the article talked out of both sides of their mouths as they claimed to want to reduce gay suicides, yet refused to renounce their anti-gay agenda and message of hate and bigotry. 

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