NEW YORK — Buoyed by a Republican platform that supports the “right of parents to determine the proper medical treatment and therapy for their minor children,” advocates of long-discredited gay “conversion” therapy are, in some circles, getting a renewed aura of credibility, ABC News reports.
Advocates of the practice had been increasingly downplayed in mainstream media during the Obama years, but are now being quoted again.
“I certainly hope that this administration will pull back from some of the aggressive activism that the Obama administration engaged in,” said Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council, a powerful conservative lobbying group in Washington that is active in supporting sexual reorientation efforts, ABC reports.
President Obama’s Surgeon General Vivek Murthy publicly stated that “conversion therapy is not sound medical practice” and that such programs “are harmful and are not appropriate therapeutic practices.”
Conversion therapy has been outlawed for licensed mental health providers in California, Oregon, New Jersey, Vermont, Illinois and the District of Colombia, according to the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT advocacy group.
The Family Research Council and Sprigg have helped to fight legislative proposals in 20 other states that would make gay conversion therapy illegal. Pennsylvania has grappled with the issue since 2013 when out State Rep. Brian Sims, a Philadelphia Democrat, introduced legislation to ban the practice. He plans to reintroduce it in the House later this year, Metro Philadelphia reports.
“They certainly should not be outlawed. They certainly should not be prohibited by law,” Sprigg said in an interview to be broadcast tonight (Friday, March 10) on the ABC News program “20/20” in an investigation of gay conversion therapy programs.
“As a Christian, I believe that the Bible teaches that to choose to engage in homosexual conduct is a sin,” he said, adding that he believes therapy can cause people to make different choices.
The “20/20” report includes revelations of two programs that conducted conversion therapy in Alabama, including one in which Christian pastors overseeing dozens of teens were convicted of child abuse amid stark allegations of beatings administered to teens who resisted efforts to change their sexual orientation.
The camps practicing conversion therapy uncovered by the “20/20” investigation were not operating as licensed mental health facilities and are therefore not covered by laws prohibiting the practice.
The Republican party position mirrors the position of the Family Research Council, which considers sexual reorientation therapy mental health care.
“If someone is experiencing something mentally, like same-sex attractions, that is causing distress, then that’s a mental health issue,” ABC quoted Sprigg as having said.
He said that there is no place for physical abuse in therapy programs.
The practice however has long been discredited by respected medical and mental health institutions.