Conversion therapy is harmful, bound to fail
Kudos to Sandra Tan for her important Feb. 16 News article, “A young man’s journey through gay conversion.” The ideas that homosexuality has a cause in a person’s psychological development, and that gay people can be “converted” to straight, are both long outdated and dangerously misguided. Ethnology, anthropology’s cross-cultural comparative approach, long ago realized that homosexuality is universal, found in all stages of recorded human history, and that it seems to occur in similar percentage in all human groups.
These facts alone allow modern science to declare that homosexuality is a normal variant of human sexuality. Indeed, we recognize five normal variants, expressed in the letters LGBTQ.
The fact that homosexual people are fully capable heterosexually is the principle reason that it has existed comfortably in most of the world’s cultures. Indeed, among many cultures in North America and Africa, homosexuality in both sexes was either unremarkable or given special recognition of some sort – until missionaries from Abrahamic faiths came along with the terrible notions of sin and divine condemnation.
Conversion therapy is not only bound to fail, it can leave its victim seriously damaged psychologically. A ban against “gay conversion” should be enacted; but better, and lasting, would be patient education in the science of sexuality. “Patient,” because deep religious conviction is hard to change. But if we truly value ideals of human dignity and equality, such education is essential.
Phillips Stevens Jr., Ph.D.