Xtra! Canada reports on a debate that occurred in a UK parliamentary committee room on the efficacy of “ex-gay” therapy. Big BenClearly, this is an abusive practice that cruelly targets children and their parents for exploitation. Indeed, is it isn’t therapy at all, just an underhanded strategy to use medical language in order to ostracize and stigmatize LGBT people.

The debate was organized by Christian Concern and Core Issues Trust (of course it was promoted by Christians instead — because religion is the only justification for such quackery).  According to Pink News, the impetus for the dog and pony show was an inquiry into the professional conduct of Dr Mike Davidson, a therapist who “advocates for those who say they have unwanted feelings of same-sex attraction. Davidson participated in the event that featured gay rights activist Peter Tatchell; Dr Michael King, director of the Mental Health Sciences Unit at University College London; and Dr. Joseph Berger, a consultant psychiatrist.

“The idea to me in terms of any group coming and saying that should not be permitted in terms of people wanting to question their same-sex thoughts and desires and behaviours, that is what is unethical, that people would seek to stop that, would seek to ban it, would seek to try to throw such therapists out of their professional bodies, that to me is absolutely horrendous,” Berger said during the debate.

Asked what evidence exists to support the contention that conversion therapy works, Berger claims there’s “tons of very good research and very good reports” that such treatment is successful among people who voluntarily come forward and say they are troubled by their same-sex thoughts, fantasies and behaviours. He further claims that “considerable proportions” of such people — “some studies suggest 33 percent, to other studies that come up as high as 79 percent” —  have been helped. Claims that these therapies are harmful are anecdotal, he argues.

Berger is deliberately misinforming people. Reparative therapy is consumer fraud that has zero to do with people questioning their sexual orientation. It is really about browbeating people burdened by religious guilt into hating themselves. It is also about convincing society that gay people are mentally ill — so they need help instead of equal rights. As for Berger — he is a quack that once advocated having kids “ridicule” gender variant students:

In 2006, NARTH had a meltdown after two major controversies (See LA Times story below). In the first, psychiatrist Joseph Berger, MD, a member of their “Scientific Advisory Committee,” wrote a paper encouraging students to “ridicule” gender variant children. “I suggest, indeed, letting children who wish go to school in clothes of the opposite sex–but not counseling other children to not tease them or hurt their feelings,” Dr. Berger wrote on NARTH’s website. “On the contrary, don’t interfere, and let the other children ridicule the child who has lost that clear boundary between play-acting at home and the reality needs of the outside world. Maybe, in this way, the child will re-establish that necessary boundary.”

Furthermore, Berger does not have research on his side, what he is talking about is decades old, discredited science that no respectable practitioner would embrace in the 21st Century. It is disgraceful that such individuals distort real research in order to advance their animus towards LGBT people. The fact is, anyone who conducts “ex-gay” therapy of any time should be tagged “an abuser” and have their license stripped. And as sure as the sun rises and sets, this will be the final outcome of this “debate” — it is just a matter of time.

Fortunately for our side, we had UK advocate Peter Tatchell who is always well-spoken and articulate:

“I think that any therapy that’s being offered ought to be informed and based on its effectiveness, and I think it’s very wrong to propose or offer a therapy which gives people false hope, that gives people the prospect that they can change their sexual orientation when we know from the evidence that there is virtually no possibility for 99.9 percent of people,” Tatchell says.

Here is the LA Times piece that tells you all you need to know about Dr. Berger:

LA Times