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Kevin Alderson, associate professor of counselling psychology, UofC

“The whole ex-gay movement is really what we’d call conversion therapy,” said Kevin Alderson, an associate professor of counselling psychology at the University of Calgary who is gay. “There is a very large psychological literature now on showing harms that conversion therapy in all its forms has created for people, from increasing the problems of shame and guilt, which is common for the entire LGBT community when they come out … to low-self esteem, increased rates of suicidality, increased problems in having intimate relationships with others, sometimes sexual difficulties because of again shame, doubt, fear and all the rest of it.” October 2012

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US Surgeon General weighs in

Protester holds a sign that reads: "self-hatred is not therapy."

“Conversion therapy is not sound medical practice. Moreover, we all need to work together to build greater understanding and acceptance throughout our society. Doctors can and should be part of that effort.” – US Surgeon General, April 2015

“In response to an online petition calling for a ban on conversion therapies, which had gained over 120,000 signatures in three months, Obama said in a statement urging states to ban therapies that attempt to change the sexual orientation of gay, lesbian and transgender youth.” April 2015

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Dangers of alleged “therapies” are becoming more publicly acknowledged

MPP in Ontario proposes bill to end conversion and reparative therapy

It appears to me that the dangers of conversion “therapy” are increasingly becoming a public policy matter. One MPP in Ontario is working to protect young people from these dangers.

NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo is fighting to change that with new legislation that seeks to ban reparative therapy (also known as conversion therapy) for anyone 18 and younger in Ontario, and to have this type of therapy delisted from OHIP for everyone else.

“This is about children and about intrinsically who you are. Children who come forth and tell adults who they are, and adults who say ‘it’s wrong and it needs to be fixed’ – that’s more than sad. It’s abusive, and it needs to be stopped,” said DiNovo. – Globe and Mail

The question for the Alliance Church: will they consider empirical evidence that their doctrine, that gay behavior is sinful, is harming young people.

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Conversion therapy is dangerous

It’s interesting to me that there are law centers in the US that are working to resist “conversion therapy,” “reparative therapy,” or “sexual orientation therapy.” There’s evidence that these “therapies” are harmful. Mental health organizations agree that trying to deny your sexual orientation can be dangerous.

Conversion therapy – sometimes known as reparative or “sexual reorientation” therapy – is a dangerous practice based on the premise that people can change their sexual orientation, literally “converting” from gay to straight. Conversion therapy has been discredited or highly criticized by virtually all major American medical, psychiatric, psychological and professional counseling organizations. SPLCenter

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Conversion therapy

There is a movement in the US to ban conversion therapy.

Banning the use of conversion therapy on minors is not only the moral thing to do; it’s the smart thing to do. Even if you believe that being GLBTQ isn’t natural or isn’t a part of God’s plan for certain people, condemning them to a life of repression and psychological trauma should not be the answer. That is exactly what we are condoning if we allow conversion therapy to stay legal in the United States.

Alex Fischer at the Huffington Post

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Community organizing, community support: bait and switch

The Alliance Church is good at offering help. But what else are they offering?

One problematic aspect of being a church, of being a community, that defines homosexual behaviour as sin, is how to deal with new, impressionable, vulnerable members.

The thing is, many new members will have joined the church community to get support. But when they joined did they know that their sexual choices, especially their homosexual behaviour, would be deemed wrong? It seems particularly cruel that a community would use it’s friendship, it’s community support, even it’s emotional support, to convince members to turn away from homosexual behaviour.

We live in an age now, where we know that homosexual behaviour is not a problem. But new members might discover that the church sees it as a sin.

It probably occurs in many cases as a bait and switch. The new found friends and support and community love comes at a the price of condemnation.

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One hundred years ago

One hundred years ago you could probably get away with raising your child to hate themselves. You could beat them, for example, for being left handed. And maybe everyone knew, but no one really cared.

One hundred years ago you could teach your students that other people, maybe people of other “races” or cultures, were sinners. Hell, you could teach your own children that others were evil.

But as a community we have learned to express disapproval of these kinds of things. It’s not okay to teach kids to hate themselves. It’s not okay to teach kids harmful ideas.

But for some reason we give the Alliance Church, and others, a pass on their anti-gay ideologies. I don’t get it.

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A good summary of the Alliance Church position (and others)

Jesus called us to love everyone, especially people who are really hard to love... like you!

Illustration by Molly Allice.
Find Molly on Twitter: @mollyalicehoy
Comic source.

Text for the comic

Frame 1
Person B: Jesus called us to love everyone, especially people who are really hard to love… like you!

Frame 2
Person B: I accept you as you are, so every night I go home and pray that you’ll reject one of the most fundamental aspects of your identity!

Frame 3
Person B: I love you, so I advocate laws and policies that systematically discriminate against you!

Frame 4
Person A: You’re an asshole.

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The Salvation Army has a similar approach to the Alliance Church

As you know I’m very interested in the way that the Alliance Church positions itself as a church that loves gay people but remains anti-gay. They’re not alone in this, of course. The Catholic Church has a very similar position. And, apparently, so does the Salvation Army, which is a charity, formed by a church; the Methodist Church.