US: Nine former leaders of ‘ex-gay’ movement back NCLR campaign to ban ‘conversion therapy’

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Nine former leaders of the ‘ex-gay’ movement have published an open letter in support of the #BornPerfect campaign of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), which aims to ban ‘conversation therapy’ across the US within five years.

The letter was signed by: Brad Allen, Michael Bussee and Yvette Cantu Schneider, formerly of Exodus International; Jeremy Marks, founder of Exodus Europe and Courage UK; Bill Prickett, founder of Coming Back; Tim Rymel and John J. Smid, formerly of Love in Action; Catherine Chapman, formerly of the Portland Fellowship; and Darlene Bogie, founder of Paraklete Ministries.

“Together we represent more than half a century of experience, so few people are more knowledgeable about the ineffectiveness and harm of conversion therapy,” the letter reads in part.

“We know first-hand the terrible emotional and spiritual damage it can cause, especially for LGBT youth. We once believed that there was something morally wrong and psychologically ‘broken’ about being LGBT. We know better now.”

It continues: “Conversion therapy reinforces internalized homophobia, anxiety, guilt and depression. It leads to self-loathing and emotional and psychological harm when change doesn’t happen.

“Regrettably, too many will choose suicide as a result of their sense of failure. In light of this, we now stand united in our conviction that conversion therapy is not ‘therapy’, but is instead both ineffective and harmful.”

The letter concludes: “As former ‘ex-gay’ leaders, having witnessed the incredible harm done to those who attempted to change their sexual orientation or gender identity, we join together in calling for a ban on conversion therapy… We fully support the aim of #BornPerfect to bring an end to conversion therapy.”

NCLR launched the #BornPerfect campaign, which aims to end gay-to-straight ‘conversion therapy’ within “the next five years”, in June.

Kate Kendell, Executive Director of NCLR, said: “We are committed to protecting LGBT children and their families from the severe harms caused by these dangerous practices. These practices have been thoroughly discredited by every major mental health organization, and yet, every day, young lives are wrecked. We intend to stop the practices once and for all.”

Last week, Yvette Cantu Schneider, one of the signatories of the letter, spoke at length about her experiences of working within anti-gay Christian movements, and her disillusionment with the movement.