SPLC Wants End to Gay Cure Therapy


The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), together with the Beth Allen Law firm, is representing a young Portland, Oregon, man who claims a psychiatrist he was seeing tried using conversion therapy to “cure” him of being gay. This has spurred on the SPLC to create a new campaign that aims to end the practice of so-called gay conversion therapy.

Reports the Advocate:

SPLC and Beth Allen sent a complaint recently to two professional psychiatric associations, Oregon Psychiatric Association and the American Psychiatric Association, charging that the Portland psychiatrist unethically subjected Max Hirsh, a 22-year-old University of Oregon student, to conversion therapy.

Hirsh reportedly began seeing the Portland doctor for treatment for depression in February 2011 and discontinued therapy the following August after determining the doctor subjected him to conversion therapy, a long-since debunked form of therapy directed at changing his sexual orientation. The practice has been highly criticized by all major American medical, psychiatric, psychological, and professional counseling organizations (who also don’t view being gay or bisexual as a mental disorder needing treatment), though some medical professionals continue to use it.

“This is an appalling violation of physician ethics, as well as a breach of a client’s trust,” said Christine P. Sun, deputy legal director for the SPLC. “LGBT people who seek therapy are vulnerable to these covert attempts by doctors to fix what is not broken. We are calling upon the OPA and APA to take steps to end the practice of conversion therapy by its members.”

Hirsh, who identifies as gay, reportedly ended the therapy sessions after the therapist allegedly decided to make Hirsh’s sexual orientation the sole focus of the therapy.

Hirsh alleges the psychiatrist repeatedly told him that he wasn’t gay and “focused intensely” on Hirsh’s relationship with his father, something that is often a preoccupation for ex-gay practitioners who believe, based on their own self-perpetuating pseudo-science, that being gay springs from having either a weak or absent father, or an overbearing mother.

The SPLC recently launched a new web service containing a map that allows those concerned to see if there are therapists in there area offering gay conversion therapy, the idea being that if you are attending a session at such a clinic or you know someone attending sessions with that therapist you will be mindful that the therapist is indulging in the unscientific, unsupported and potentially harmful practice of trying to reorient gay people.

Here is the SPLC’s campaign video:

The SPLC is also encouraging those who were forced into ex-gay therapy to speak out and tell their stories. You can find more details on the SPLC webpage, which also contains the ex-gay therapy map, here.

This comes as legislators in the state of California prepare to vote on a bill banning ex-gay therapy for minors and making it harder to push vulnerable adults into so called gay conversion therapy.


Related Reading:

Ex-Gay Study Author Apologizes to Gay Community

Gay Cure Therapy is ‘Quackery Fueled by Bias’

Rachel Maddow Takes on Ex-Gay Therapy (VIDEO)

Image used under the Creative Commons Attribution License with thanks to Joe Houghton.


Duane B.
.4 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Rin S.
Rin S5 years ago

It should end, because it doesn't exist. One can live in miserable denial, but it can never be 'cured'.

Daniel Garcia
Daniel Garcia5 years ago

A feminist united organization in my campus was having a sex week with a series of speakers from various different fields. One of the speakers was a psychologist whose name I cannot recall, and the idea was that she was going to talk about LGBTQ and sexuality, I believe focusing on safe sex practices. I am heterosexual, however, I have a lot of fellow core-organizers in non-profits that I work with that identify as Lesbian, Gay or Queer, and I have always been fascinated by their ability to observe a challenge that a lot of people are placing on them and strengthen their work to help others.

But to make an already long story short, this psychologist had the audacity to come to a university with one of the best psychology programs and made the audacious claim that people where gay because they were molested when they where children, and hinge on that points. Stating that the data comes from all the people she worked with and that everyone that was gay was molested at some point in their childhood, essentially claiming that being gay is a cause of being molested, there was a discussion and people did not buy it, but I wish I could remember her name to warn people about her.

Needless to say, she was supposed to be speaking in another event the following day, she was not allowed to do so after those statements.

The idea that there are people in positions of trust that will try to find, in this case an incident of molestation or place the idea into people's mind that

Ainsley Chalmers
Ainsley Chalmers5 years ago

Are there any folk who have had treatment for being gay and are now genuinely hetero? Is there any scientific study which shows that the gay condition can be treated using psychological methods? The impression I am getting is that being gay is set in concrete.

Inaya K.
Inaya Kamal5 years ago

i understand this is a lifestyle choice and like any major decision they should see all sides of the coin; while i understand needing therapy during this decision, gay "cure" therapy is not the way to go about it, as the very name suggests rather states, that there is only really one option and the flip side of being "ill"

Juliet Defarge
judith sanders5 years ago

This is a rip-off, plain and simple. i expected to see this therapy being conducted under a religious banner, because there are so many scams and abusive programs affiliated with religious groups.

s. r.
p. q5 years ago

hah. sue!

Philip Amos
.5 years ago

The American Psychiatric Association needs to get its ethical act together. If a psychiatrist in Britain or Canada, to name just two, tried this on, he/she would be struck off the Register in a heartbeat.

JACarlton Author
jill c5 years ago

John M. said, "One should abstain. Abstinence,is the solution to world overpopulation. So outlaw sex!!!"

Does that include masturbation? Cause as Woody Allen said, (I think it was Woody Allen) 'Masturbation is sex with someone I love very much'. Or are you just another faux puritanical wrong wing nutjob? Cause seriously, the solution to overpopulation is not just abstinence for those who choose it, but also birth control and the availability of abortion for those who require or desire it.

Sex is not just about procreation it is about bonding and nurturing. To think otherwise is a huge disservice to what it means to be human or even living.

And if you truly believe sex should be outlawed, start with your own reproduction.

John Mansky
John Mansky5 years ago

One should abstain. Abstinence,is the solution to world overpopulation. So outlaw sex!!!