Ugandan gay group responds to recent campaign against homosexuality

What goes around comes around. In Uganda, the same kind of either-or arguments are being offered about the origins of homosexuality in order to gain political advantage. It is easy to see why same-sex attracted people would gravitate toward authorities who say their attractions are inborn. One does not need to propose a plot of cosmic proportions to understand that homosexuals in Uganda are afraid for their safety and counter the misinformation of the recent American visitors with inborn theories. Truth is, in any given case, we don’t know. If the last sentence of the article is an accurate representation of Mr. Mukasa’s views, there are many doing this research who would agree: “Mukasa however says homosexuals are normal people born like any child but develop a natural attraction to the same sex.”
I just posted a video of Stephen Langa misleading his audience with Richard Cohen’s book. Today an article from UGPulse describes the views of Victor Mukasa, speaking in protest of the recent campaign against homosexuality. Although his statements about origins may or may not be completely accurate for any or all same-sex attracted people, the political environment there does not give him much room for nuance — another casualty of the American visitation.
Let’s hope there are no more casualties.
UPDATE: An AP writer has a story here with the Health Minister Buturo saying he wants to help gays be rehabilitated.
UPDATE #2: A popular Catholic priest and Gospel singer has been outed by the anti-crusaders who hosted the conference where Don Schmierer, Caleb Brundidge and Scott Lively spoke. The priest denies the accusation.

Blog in the news: Sacramento Bee article on ex-gay programs

Yours truly is quoted in this article by Ed Fletcher on a Sacramento area Exodus ministry. Alan Chambers is also quoted as is Greg Herek. Chambers reflects on his experience:

Chambers said he grew up in the church, but as an adolescent discovered he was attracted to men. As a young adult he had relations with men. He said he found a church that would accept him and led him to the Exodus ministry.
He said for him temptation still exists, but he no longer wants to act on those feelings, has been happily and faithfully married for 11 years, and has two children.
“That is success for me. Not heterosexuality, so to speak,” Chambers said, “but a life that is congruent with my faith.”

Of course, the last sentence is music to my sexual-identity-therapy ears – at least coming from one (Mr. Chambers) who embraces Evangelical Christianity. I should take care to say that sexual identity therapy recognizes that the value direction of sexual identity work comes from the client. For Alan, given his core commitment to Christianity, this was the option that fit him best.
Others of course, do not find the same outcome.

Jacques Whitfield, a Sacramento attorney, said he tried for years to squelch his homosexual feelings and attended meetings with the group at Sunrise Community Church in Fair Oaks. Finally, he decided he couldn’t change.
“I was in the program because I wanted to do what is right. I wanted to preserve my family,” said Whitfield, who is the new board chairman of the Sacramento Gay and Lesbian Center. “And if this was a choice, I could choose not to be gay.”
Whitfield was married for 11 years and spent much of that time trying, with the help of the church, to resist his attraction to men.
“The people who run the program are well-meaning,” he said. “They love God and they want to do the right thing.”
“I don’t believe that sexual orientation is a choice,” Whitfield said. “I think you can abstain, but that doesn’t make you straight.”

The Mr. Fletcher brings in the professors.

Psychologists disagree that you can change sexual orientation.
“It’s maybe among the most controversial subjects you could bring up,” said Dr. Warren Throckmorton, an associate professor of psychology at Grove City College in Pennsylvania.
While some studies suggest people have happily changed, others chronicle harmful psychological effects of trying to change sexual orientation.
Throckmorton, who blogs about sexual identity at wthrockmorton. com, said he allows clients to set their own course. Throckmorton said research that relies on self-reported data isn’t conclusive.
Some people will report changing their sexual orientation through some form of counseling or therapy, but that doesn’t mean it actually worked or that trying it is worth the effort, said Gregory Herek, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis.
“Being gay is a perfectly normal sexual orientation,” Herek said.

Reading the comments section of this article, I am re-instructed in the role of observer bias. Several commenters take Mr. Fletcher to task for being too hard on religion, and then in the same thread, several others say he is too easy on archaic religious views.

Ugandan pastor uses Richard Cohen as authority on homosexuality research

Richard Cohen’s book Coming Out Straight was used as a reference to refute scientific research on causes of same-sex attraction in a March 15 workshop led by Stephen Langa of the Family Life Network. Exgaywatch is the only place that has moving pictures from the Uganda meetings. Here is exclusive video of the reference to Cohen:

The Ugandan audience is very badly served by this reference. Cohen’s book was published in 2000 with a 2nd edition in 2007. The 2007 edition is not really an update and does not deal with any new research save for a brief mention of Robert Spitzer’s study of change. Numerous studies have been published since then which are far superior to the three studies Cohen claims to debunk in his book (Levay, Bailey & Pillard & Hamer). The science is miles upstream in 2009 and yet here is a minister of the Gospel misleading his audience with the help of Richard Cohen.

Video of the Uganda homosexual conference follow up meeting

A week after the Family Life Network conference against homosexuality, a follow-up meeting was held. Exgaywatch obtained some footage and has posted a couple of clips. This first one is Stephen Langa lecturing straight from The Pink Swastika, by Scott Lively.

Another clip is here.
The blogger GayUganda claims that Stephen Langa has been on Uganda radio calling for the arrest of gay leaders while at the same time he has asked for meetings with them. I am trying confirm these claims.

Treatmentshomosexuality website open to positive experiences

Michael King, British psychiatrist and researcher, is behind a research wesbite called Treatmentshomosexuality.org.uk. The website’s purpose is stated up front:

The website is new and under development. It is about use of so-called “treatments” that aim to make homosexual people heterosexual. It arose from research funded by the Wellcome Trust from 2001 to 2004 into the oral history of such treatments in Britain since 1950.
Treatments to change a person’s sexuality are unethical and may be damaging. This is because homosexuality is NOT a disorder. Nor is there any evidence that any such “treatments” are effective. That is the reason why we collected a number of oral histories from lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people who had undergone therapy. We also collected oral histories from professionals who had developed and conducted the treatments. We wanted to know how patients had coped with the potentially damaging effects of “treatment” and whether the professionals had eventually realised the harm they were doing.
On this website you will find some of the oral histories that arose from that research. We have not put all the narratives here; rather we have included only those that show particular issues and that are the most revealing of how treatments were conducted. To read them click on the Narratives button and then on Patient Story or Professional Story. You can also read about and listen to views about such treatments on the Interviews page.
We are eager to make contact with other people around the world who may have undergone these “treatments”. Unfortunately, we are aware that many lesbian, gay and bisexual people have undergone psychotherapy, aversion behaviour therapy, or various forms of spiritual or reparative therapy, to try to become heterosexual. This may have happened to you or be happening to you now. You may even be a friend or relative of someone who has received or is receiving treatment. If so, we would like you to send us your story.
We are also eager to hear from professionals, be they doctors, psychotherapists, counsellors or psychologists, who may have undertaken these treatments at any time in their career. Please send us your accounts of giving these therapies and what you think about them now.
You can do this by contacting us with a written account, or an audio or video digital recording of your account. If it is suitable we shall edit it to ensure it is anonymous and will not cause offence to third parties. We shall then add it to the stories already on this website.
In particular, we want to hear from people living in places such as India, South America and China where much less research into these matters has been conducted.

With this tone and content on the front page, one might be surprised to learn that the research team is also interested in positive experiences in change therapy. Yesterday, Dr. King disclosed this apparent shift in response to a question from commenter Peter Ould. Ould asked, “Would you be amenable to using your website here to also post anecdotal stories of those who have had positive experiences of reparative therapy or other faith-based pastoral approaches?”
To which, Dr. King replied:

And yes, we will place positive accounts of treatments on the website. When we conducted our original oral history research, we couldn’t find any. However, we did find professionals who continued to advocate treatments and their comments were published in our papers in the British Medical Journal and on our website.

This research effort seems to be going down a similar road as did Ariel Shidlo and Michael Schroeder. When Shidlo and Schroeder began recruiting subjects for their study of harm from reorientation, they began with the project titled: “Homophobic therapies: Documenting the damage.” They changed their focus somewhat after some people presented with stories of benefit. A similar course may be in store for this newer effort.
To be clear, I am not posting this because I favor change therapies. I think there are some people who have experienced change to varying degrees, but I also think that if you are going to research a topic, you should minimize confirmation bias to the greatest degree possible. If it was my project, I would make the website more neutral and also hold out an invitation to clients and therapists who are/were involved in sexual identity therapy.
It will be interesting to follow this project…

Exodus adds disclaimer to their website

Most recently, Exodus removed a link to Scott Lively’s article on the Pink Swastika. The article attempts to support the idea that homosexuality was integral to the the Nazi uprising. As a consequence of Lively’s appearance in Uganda, Exodus leadership removed the article.
Now, in a move to make sure information on their website is consistent with their mission, Exodus has added a disclaimer and request.

DISCLAIMER: Please note that many articles have been added to this website since its creation in 1995. Exodus does not necessarily ascribe to the views expressed in these articles or the views of the authors. If you find an article in error biblically or factually, please bring it to our attention for review. We are in the process of updating this site and your help is greatly appreciated.

Aftermath of the Uganda conference on homosexuality

Much has happened in Uganda since the Family Life Network’s conference on homosexuality was conducted March 5-7 (All of my posts are linked at the end of this post). This post provides links to the stories and some commentary on the matter.
In short, it appears that the intent of the organizers of the conference is being realized. The conference organizers wanted to fight homosexuality and use the conference as a means of awareness for that purpose. In the days since the conference, a series of news conferences and meetings have provided a steady stream of provocative revelations involving recruiting children. As near as I can tell, none of these revelations are relevant to relationships between consenting adults. And yet, the Family Life Network is apparently calling for “urgent steps” to be taken regarding homosexuality in general.
Here is a chronology:
March 7 – The day the conference ended, this report briefly noted the formation of a group which had a goal to “one day “wipe out” gay practices in the African state.”
March 15 – A follow up meeting was held in Kampala to plan strategy in the anti-homosexuality campaign. The narrative indicates that follow up meetings would be held and that legislative strategies against homosexuality would be pursued. Read the post for a more complete view from the perspective of someone who claims to have been present.
March 23 – At the second follow up meeting (3/22), George Oundo, a former gay activist, was quoted as admitting to recruiting children into sexual activity or at least into supporting homosexuality.
March 25 – Family Life Network organizes parents to complain about homosexuality.

The parents said they are going to write to the President Museveni showing their discontent at what they call the increasing immorality levels in the county so that the government can reverse the trend.

March 25 – Eight more people came forward to say that they had given up homosexuality. The reports are very similar…

“We have been involved in recruiting homosexuals, spreading the gospel of homosexuality, and we know the operations of homosexuals,” said 27-year-old Emma Matovu, who took to homosexuality 13 years ago. “We shall do all it takes to eliminate the practice in Uganda.”
Matovu, who said he abandoned the practice two weeks ago, asserted: “Homosexuality is dangerous and dehumanising but is growing fast in Uganda.”
Langa said his group would move around the country convincing parents to sign a petition to be handed to the President and Parliament on April 7. He said the petition will demand urgent steps to be taken against homosexuality in Uganda.

Given that the high court of Uganda ruled in 2008 that gays and lesbians have the same rights as others, it is not clear what “urgent steps” will be taken. I continue to believe it was a mistake for the Americans to support what could turn into a violent situation there. No word of clarification or explanation has come from the International Healing Foundation, Extreme Prophetic and Caleb Brundidge about his calls for criminalizing homosexual relationships.
Additional links:
Uganda’s strange ex-gay conference
More on the Ugandan ex-gay conference
Ugandan ex-gay conference goes political: Presenter suggests law to force gays into therapy
Reparative therapy takes center stage at Ugandan homosexuality conference
Gay Ugandan man seeks asylum in UK: EU group condemns Ugandan ex-gay conference
Open forum: Report from the Ugandan conference on homosexuality
Christian Post article on the Ugandan ex-gay conference
Scott Lively on criminalization and forced therapy of homosexuality
Christianity, homosexuality and the law
Uganda anti-gay group holds first meeting
Follow the money: Pro-family Charitable Trust
NARTH removes references to Scott Lively from their website
Aftermath of the Ugandan conference on homosexuality

Reorientation therapies in the UK: Survey results

A new survey from BMC Psychiatry found that 4-17% of therapists surveyed offer some form of therapy designed to reduce homosexual attractions.
From the article in the BBC News:

A significant minority of mental health professionals had agreed to help at least one patient “reduce” their gay or lesbian feelings when asked to do so.
The survey, published in the journal BMC Psychiatry and conducted by London researchers, involved 1,400 therapists.
Many were acting with the “best of intentions”, said the lead author.
Only 4% said they would attempt to change a client’s sexual orientation, but when asked if they would help curb homosexual feelings some 17% – or one in six – said they had done so.
The incidence appeared to be as prevalent in recent years as decades earlier.

Here is the abstract from the journal article:

Background
We know very little about mental health practitioners’ views on treatments to change sexual orientation. Our aim was to survey a representative sample of professional members of the main United Kingdom psychotherapy and psychiatric organisations about their views and practices concerning such treatments.
Methods
We sent postal questions to mental health professionals who were members of British Psychological Society, the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy and the Royal College of Psychiatrists. Participants were asked to give their views about treatments to change homosexual desires and describe up to six patients each, whom they have treated in this way.
Results
Of 1848 practitioners contacted, 1406 questionnaires were returned and 1328 could be analysed. Although only 55 (4%) of therapists reported that they would attempt to change a client’s sexual orientation if one consulted asking for such therapy, 222 (17%) reported having assisted at least one client/patient to reduce or change his or her homosexual or lesbian feelings. 413 patients were described by these 222 therapists: 213 (52%) were seen in private practice and 117 (28%) were not followed up beyond the period of treatment. Counselling was the commonest (66%) treatment offered and there was no sign of a decline in treatments in recent years. 159 (72%) of the 222 therapists who had provided such treatment considered that a service should be available for people who want to change their sexual orientation. Client/patient distress and client/patient autonomy were seen as reasons for intervention; therapists paid attention to religious, cultural and moral values causing internal conflict.
Conclusions
A significant minority of mental health professionals are attempting to help lesbian, gay and bisexual clients to become heterosexual. Given lack of evidence for the efficacy of such treatments, this is likely to be unwise or even harmful.

Going a little deeper into the study, it appears that some of the efforts designated as change might not be direct efforts to change after all. Consider some reasons given for what is labeled by the authors as support for change efforts:

“…where someone had a strong faith, then working to help the person accept their feelings but manage them appropriately may be the best approach if (the) person felt they would lose God and therefore their life was not worth living.”
“Some bisexual individuals may wish to choose an orientation that is
comfortable for them and their lifestyle choices for example. This is a
therapeutic issue to explore and support if that is their wish. It is different from behavioural attempts to reshape desire.”
“Yes, possibly those within marriages that wish to continue with that
relationship rather than break up”

Rather, these therapists give what sound like client-centered responses based on the individual circumstances of the clients. I wonder if the authors of this article may have pushed these responses into either change or gay affirming camps without considering a third more neutral position – what Mark Yarhouse and I call sexual identity therapy.
Most of the other comments relied on a belief that therapists should follow the wishes of the client. This seems reasonable if the client is informed that change is infrequent at best and we do not know going in who might shift and by how much. Also, it is necessary to provide prospective clients with accurate information regarding homosexuality without regard to the ideological loyaties of the therapist. Also, it seems clear that non-homosexually identified people experience same-sex attraction. Helping them sort out their particular situation and arrive and a value-congruent position is not the same thing as reparative or reorientation therapy.
The authors paint a picture of 1 in 6 therapists engaging in change therapy and I think that is misleading. The 4% figure seems like the right number of therapists who deliberately promote change among their same-sex attracted clients.

Heavy – Collective Soul with the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra

This is an amazing performance by Collective Soul and the Atlanta Youth Symphony in 2007. One of the Top 10 rock songs of all time (in the Throckmorton list of rock songs), this arrangement is uses the orchestra to provide captivating counter melodies to the driving structure of Heavy.

Three minutes of Wow.