Republican defends traumatising conversion therapy by claiming sexual assault turns people gay

Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka

A Republican leader in Minnesota has claimed that gay ‘cure’ therapy shouldn’t be banned because homosexuality can be caused by sexual assault.

Paul Gazelka, the majority leader in the Minnesota state senate, made the inflammatory remarks during a resurfaced interview with the fringe evangelical Truth and Liberty Coalition.

The Republican lawmaker – who has blocked efforts to ban conversion therapy in the state – claimed in the interview: “As an adolescent, that’s when you’re most often confused about your sexuality. I mean, it’s complicated.

“You know, and if you were – y’know I listened to one speaker and he was talking about a lady that was lesbian, and he said, ‘Before you judge her let me just tell you her backstory.’

“He was a counsellor, and he said she was chained to a toilet as a like two, three, four, five year old girl and raped by her dad, for years and years.

“How do you think she’s gonna feel? In other words, he’s trying to get you to realise that there’s a deeper backstory, and if you understand that, you can love them while you’re – while you’re bringing truth and trying to help them.”

Paul Gazelka accused of sending his own child to conversion therapy.

On proposals to outlaw conversion therapy, he said: “I think the best place to land is let the church have the total freedom to do as they please, and then for professional counsellors, if an adolescent comes into their office, says ‘I have unwanted same-sex attraction’, I’m hoping that counsellor can say ‘How can I help you?'”

He has declined to discuss the comments with the Minnesota Reformer newspaper.

Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa)

Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa) (Photo: Minnesota Senate Republicans)

The newspaper notes that one of Gazelka’s children identifies as LGBT+ and has previously accused him of sending them to conversion therapy when they came out as a teenager.

Gazelka denied he sought to cure their sexual orientation, claiming the therapy was for “healing”.

Democrats slam GOP leader for ‘infecting’ Minnesota legislature with bigotry.

Brian Evans of Minnesota’s opposition Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party said: “The bigoted beliefs Gazelka expressed in this interview are exactly the attitudes that made it so difficult for me to come out and still make it hard for LGBT Minnesotans to simply be who we are.

“Paul Gazelka cannot claim to love the LGBT+ community while fuelling the homophobia that causes our community to face heightened rates of depression and suicidal ideation.”

He added: “Unfortunately for Minnesotans everywhere, Gazelka’s bigotry towards the gay community has infected his work in the Minnesota Legislature.

“Gazelka was responsible for blocking a DFL bill that would ban counsellors from telling gay youth that their sexual orientation is wrong and needs to be changed. How can Minnesota’s LGBT+ community expect compassion from a man who turned his back on his own child?

“By this point, it’s clear that Paul Gazelka will not change his deeply bigoted beliefs. If DFLers do not take back the State Senate, then Minnesota Republicans will continue to be led by a man who uses the State Senate to attack our LGBT family, friends, and neighbours. That is unacceptable.”

The American Medical Association recently backed efforts to legally ban the discredited practise of gay ‘cure’ therapy in all 50 states.

Practising conversion therapy on minors is still legal in 32 US states, while no states have banned it for adults.