Uganda appoints GLB advocacy group to public health committee

In a surprising move, the government of Uganda appointed an organization aligned with GLB interests there to an important public health committee.

In a surprising, unprecedented action, the Uganda government has appointed LGBTI lobby group, Uhspa Uganda, to a committee to mainstream homosexual’s rights in Uganda’s Public Health Policies.
The Uganda Health and Science Press Association is a registered LGBTI network of groups.
The Health, Human Rights and Gender Committee is overseen by the Ministry of Health in Kampala. It brings together high profile activists, policy makers and donors to develop a Human Rights-based approach to health programming in Uganda.
A letter signed by Uganda’s Director General for Health Services, Mr Nathan Kenya-Mugisha, on behalf of the Ministry of Health, described Uhspa Uganda as a “key stakeholder” in mainstreaming minorities rights in health programming in Uganda.

All along opponents of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill have contended that the bill would drive gays away from any health or prevention services. This press release quotes Dr. Thomas Muyunga who confirms the effect of the AHB.

There are attempts by the Ministry of Health to support health delivery to LGBTI persons through the Most At Risk Populations network clinic at the national referral Hospital in Kampala. However, the clinic is poorly funded, and since the introduction of the Anti Homosexuality Bill 2009 in Ugandan Parliament, clients visiting the clinic have dropped for fear of being arrested.
According to Dr Thomas Muyunga, an activist and a medical doctor, some of the clinic’s clients, think the clauses of the Bahati Bill have already become law, even though the bill expired with the Eighth Parliament of Uganda earlier this year.

With reports that the bill may soon return, I suspect it will take time for this public health committee to engage frightened people to come in.

Willow Creek Church breaks with Exodus International

This change has been in the works for a long time but the news, coming during a renewed interest in reparative therapy, will keep the discussion going.
Bottom line is that various stakeholders are not comfortable with the change paradigm and are moving to the congruence paradigm. Exodus, at times, has articulated a congruence message but has not followed through at the level of the resources offered. Some of their ministries are quite focused on congruence and others, including some major ones, are still pretty focused on the reparative narrative as a general framework.
Mark Yarhouse said it this way:

Mark Yarhouse, executive director of the Institute for the Study of Sexual Identity at Regent University, agrees that the primary issue in the split is not abandonment of the gay community but simply a shift in tone toward gays.
“Churches are realizing that while there is a small contingent of the gay community responding to language like ‘freedom from homosexuality’ or ‘freedom is possible,’ the vast majority strongly disagree. They’re angry and they believe it’s impossible to change, and to hear this is so offensive that they will have nothing to do with Christians. So I think churches, in response to that vast majority who say, ‘We’re not interested,’ have decided to look at other approaches in an attempt to connect with the gay community on at least some level. That doesn’t mean that churches disagree with the language of ‘freedom from homosexuality’ doctrinally; they’ve just found that it doesn’t work on a social level.”

This is just wrong

According to this report, a group of young LGB activists raided the Bachmann clinic and threw glitter all over the waiting room.
How pranky.
While there were no clients in the waiting room, there could have been.
I hope real GLB groups condemn this kind of faux activism. One way to halt a self-fulfilling prophecy is not to fulfill it.
Now that I have seen the video (now posted at the link above), I am more sure that this is the kind of thing that will make martyrs out of the Bachmanns.

Al Mohler presents us with a conundrum

Rev. Al Mohler, who lately has been calling evangelicals to speak honestly about homosexuality, seemed to defend religiously based orientation change yesterday in a column on his website.
Much of what he writes about sin and redemption most evangelicals would agree with, but then he says this about Christians and same-sex desire.

Christians with same-sex sexual desires must know that these desires are sinful. Thus, faithful Christians who struggle with these desires must know that God both desires and commands that they desire what He wills for them to desire. All Christians struggle with their own pattern of sinful desires, sexual and otherwise. Our responsibility as Christians is to be obedient to Christ, knowing that only He can save us from ourselves.

Earlier in the column, Mohler said that “…those whose sexual orientation is homosexual face the fact that they also need a fundamental reordering of their sexual attractions.” Correct me if I am misreading him, but he appears to be arguing that orientation change is required for believers who are attracted to the same sex.
This appears to be at odds with Mohler’s statements that evangelicals have “lied about the nature of homosexuality” and that same-sex attractions is “not something that people can just turn on and turn off.”
I sense a problem.
Last Friday, I pointed to a study Mark Yarhouse’s team at Regent University in the Christian journal Edification which found no change in orientation on average for married gay and lesbian people. Behavior changed modestly, but same-sex orientation remained the same. Gary Welton and I are now writing up a report of a study that found same-sex attraction actually increased on average in a similar group of married GLB people. Religious affiliation is associated with a smaller increase in SSA but these changes could not be considered a “fundamental reordering of their sexual attractions.”
At this point, I can’t satisfactorily reconcile what counseling and study participants* are telling us with what Rev. Mohler teaches in this column. Perhaps we are dealing with semantics when it comes to defining what orientation is, or what “a fundamental reordering” looks like.  When Rev. Mohler says that God commands that gays desire what He wills them to desire, that sounds a lot like turning desires on and off – in short choice. I hope he will address this in a future column. I feel sure that the emphasis on orientation in Mohler’s column will be discouraging to GLB men and women who have entered heterosexual marriage, but remain attracted to the same sex.
I suspect this will not be the only column on this matter, but for now I wanted to raise what looks like a conundrum for evangelicals raised by research and Mohler’s column.
*Here I refer to my recent study, Yarhouse’s report and the longitudinal study by Jones and Yarhouse. Even in that study of Exodus participants, reports of a “fundamental reordering of their sexual attractions” were infrequent. Even the small number of people who reported categorical changes reported ongoing SSA.

Ghana's Western Region Minister orders arrest of all gays

Yesterday, I reported on the worsening situation in Ghana for human rights for GLB people. Today, a government minister ordered the arrest of all gay people in his region.

The Western Region Minister Paul Evans Aidoo has ordered the immediate arrest of all homosexuals in the region.
He has tasked the Bureau of National Investigations and all security agencies to smoke out persons suspected to be engaging in same sex.
He also enlisted the services of landlords and tenants to provide reliable information which will lead to the arrest of homosexuals.
His directive follows months of campaigns against the practice of homosexuality in the country.
Only yesterday, the Christian Council of Ghana capped months of protestations against the practice of homosexuality with a strongly worded message against the practice and courting Ghanaians not to vote for any politician who believes in the rights of homosexuals.

UPDATE: In a sign that there are forces of reason in Ghana’s leadership, the President said he was misquoted when a news source said he intended to crack down on gays legally. It is not clear what he will do about this call for unlawful arrests.

Is Ghana the next Uganda?

Judging from this June, 2011 report, a safe prediction is that Ghana’s Parliament might soon follow the lead of Uganda in some manner. I have been observing a steady stream of articles from religious and political leaders calling for tougher restrictions on homosexuality. Click the link above to read some, and then consider this recent one calling on Christians to vote against any politician who proposes any law favorable to homosexuality. Also, listen to the interview on the page. One minister, a Dr. Marti, said that one reason that the British Empire fell was because of homosexuality. That minister called for clearer laws against homosexuality so that Ghana would lead the world against homosexuality. Apparently, the issue might become a campaign issue in the upcoming elections.
The situation does not seem to be as severe there as in Uganda, however, this politician warned last month that mob violence may occur. And this one openly called for interfering with rights of association for gays. Today, a Ghanaian leader called for new legislation.
Much of the rhetoric sounds like Uganda circa 2009.
More today (7/19/11) – Rev. Gideon Titi-Ofei & UK evangelist, Nana Owusu condemn homosexuality.

CNN Belief Blog examines congruence paradigm amid Bachmann revelations

On today’s CNN Belief Blog, Dan Gilgoff examines some changes in the evangelical world regarding reparative therapy in light of stories about Bachmann and Associates. Gilgoff contrasts the converstion or change paradigm with what I have called the congruence paradigm.

While many evangelicals once viewed conversion therapy as key way to deal with homosexuality, many of the religious movement’s leaders and organizations have cooled to the practice in recent years, as more science suggests that homosexuality may be innate and as new therapeutic approaches have emerged.
“Evangelicals, in quiet ways, are shifting to this position to where there is just not a lot of support for the change paradigm,” said Warren Throckmorton, an influential voice in the world of Christian counseling, referring to so-called change therapy.

Later in the piece, Exodus’ Alan Chambers weighs in, Al Mohler is referenced as is Marcus Yoars at Charisma and Jonathan Merritt at Christian Science Monitor. I like that the change paradigm is contrasted with the congruence paradigm.
Go give it a read and comment there and here…

New study: Sexual behavior changes but not sexual orientation

Media have been all over the Bachmann clinic story this week with lots of related discussion about how much, if at all, sexual orientation changes. As a part of this discussion, I noted that a study I am writing up found that over all married gay people assess themselves as growing more same-sex attracted over time.

Along the way, colleague Mark Yarhouse wrote to remind me that he found something similar in a study recently reported in the new issue of the Christian journal Edification (check out the entire journal for background on the whole arena of evangelicals in the study of sexual identity).

The study Mark referred to was authored by his team at Regent University and titled, “Characteristics of Mixed Orientation Couples: An Empirical Study” (start reading at page 41). The sexual minority participants had been married an average of just over 16 years and the average age was 45. While it was not a study of efforts to change, one could reasonably assume that if a group had participants who had shifted orientation very much, then this would be the group. However, that is not what they found, at least not at the level of attraction. See Table 5 below:

You will have to click the table to see it more clearly, but the table  demonstrates that the Kinsey scores shift more toward the heterosexual side when the participants were asked about their sexual behavior but when asked about their attractions, fantasies, and emotional attachments, there was no change. The Kinsey Expanded scale included an average of participant Kinsey assessment of behavior, attractions, fantasies and emotional attachments.

The authors summarized the results:

The mean score of the Kinsey behavior scale before marriage was 3.60, which falls in between the Largely heterosexual, but more than incidental homosexual and Equal amounts of heterosexual and homosexual categories. The mean score of the Kinsey behavior scale currently was 2.80, which falls in between the Largely heterosexual, but incidental homosexual and Largely heterosexual, but more than incidental homosexual categories.

On the Kinsey Expanded version, the mean score for both before marriage and the current assessment were 4.33 and 4.57 respectively. Both of these scores fall in between the
Equal amounts of heterosexual and homosexual and Largely homosexual, but more than incidental heterosexual categories.

I need to ask Mark, and perhaps he can comment, what the Expanded Kinsey result would look like if the behavioral Kinsey score was removed from the average of all Kinsey scores. Perhaps, the attraction, fantasy, etc., scores would rise moderately.

At any rate, the results are consistent with what I am finding as well. People adapt their behavior to their beliefs and commitments but their orientation does not shift, on average.

In all of the bluster about change therapies and clinics, I think evangelicals need to face what evangelical academics are finding in research. Also, a word to the media, both Christian and mainstream, quoting advocacy groups will get you two sides for dramatic tension, but if you want to know how research informs the questions you are asking, please consult those who, despite their religious loyalties, will report accurately.

Bryan Fischer's expert misleads audience on ex-gay therapy

Psychologist Tim Rampey was on the Bryan Fischer show yesterday going on about how homosexuality is not innate. He mentioned two studies which were supposed to make his point on the clip I have below – one called Calhoun’s Rat Universe and another one conducted by Alan Bell, Martin Weinberg and Sue Hammersmith.
Listen in:

Rampey described Calhoun’s Rat Universe as a possible social influence on sexual behavior. In this study, there were many breakdowns in procreation as well as other behavioral changes when the living space became overcrowded. This, of course, is a study which is only relevant to situational sexual behavior. Explaining why some people engage in sexual behavior under duress is not the same thing as explaining the development of same-sex attraction under more typical circumstances. And besides, as NARTH writers like to remind us, animals are not human.  
Then, Rampey invokes the 1981 report from Alan Bell, Martin Weinberg and Sue Hammersmith which found very little difference between the home life of gays and straights. Rampey said:

If you actually take Alan Bell’s study, the differences are huge. The number of heterosexuals who said that they were disliked or hated by their fathers was less than half than those who said such among the homosexuals.

It is really sad to see a person who criticizes drug companies for misusing research turn around and misuse it himself. That is exactly what he has done here.
I have the book, Sexual Preference, by Bell, Weinberg and Hammersmith which provides the questions used in the analysis. The authors asked gay and straight participants many questions about both parents. The closest question I could find to one asking participants if their fathers hated them was one asking if the participants hated their fathers. The authors described the response:

A minority of the homosexual respondents said they had disliked or hated their fathers, but even fewer heterosexual respondents mentioned such feelings (WHM (white homosexual males): 29%, WHTM (white heterosexual males): 12%). (p. 54)

The researchers asked many other related questions with similar results. Generally gay males described more strained relationships with their fathers than straights. However, what should we make of this?
If we are looking for a general factor from these data of why same-sex attraction occurs, we cannot assume a strained paternal relationship is the cause. First, let’s examine the implication Rampey makes that differences in ratings of paternal relation mean those differences cause the differences in sexual orientation. Rampey has made a living critiquing researchers for errors in design and interpretation, but he makes a rookie error by implying that correlation means causation.
There are other explanations for the differences observed in relationship assessment. As Bell et al point out, during their growing up years, gay males often appear more stereotypically feminine in interests and activity preferences. Fathers who do not know how to deal with this may pull away from their sons. The father – son issues, to the extent they are remembered correctly, may be a reaction to the development of same-sex interest and not the cause of it. And then relationships can really sour in adolescence when same-sex interest becomes more obvious. Consider these recollections from former clients:

“I was a daddy’s boy until about 7th grade. We did everything together and I knew he loved me. When I got into music though, he didn’t really get it. We kind of drifted until I told him I was gay and now it is pretty strained.” And from a dad: “I never suspected a thing. We were very close but when he told me he liked boys instead of girls, something in me died, I think. We are not the same now.”

Rampey then claims that the differences in Bell et al are huge. However, they are not huge, at least huge enough to explain sexual orientation. First, the absolute number of gays in Bell’s study providing answers portraying a strained relationship was infrequently over half the respondents. Just taking the question referred to by Rampey, note that 71% of gay males did not hate or dislike their fathers. On two-thirds of the questions about father, a majority of the gay males answered in the direction of a good relationship with their father. As a group, straight males described better relationships with their fathers, but rarely was the difference dramatic or indicative of large effects on adult sexual orientation.
Bell et al analyzed all of the differences and found that the only real effect of paternal relationship was if it contributed to childhood gender nonconformity. In other words, they concluded that a lack of paternal identification did not have much at all to do with homosexuality unless a boy also reported being disinterested in typical male activities and interests growing up. Bell et al said it like this:

Unfavorable relationships with fathers do seem to be connected with gender nonconformity and early homosexual experiences; nonetheless, the connection to adult sexual orientation is not a strong one…From these findings, then, we conclude that the relationship a boy has with his father cannot be said to predict very much about the sexual orientation he will develop. (p. 62).

Another problem with Rampey’s use of Bell’s data is that he did not report the additional analysis Bell conducted to separate therapy patients from non-therapy patients. If homosexuality in general is related to poor relationships with father, then this connection should be true in emotionally troubled clients as well as those gay males who do not report mental health concerns. In research, one must not generalize results to general, non-clinical populations from those seeking treatment. Understanding this, Bell’s team compared gay men who had been in therapy and gay men who had not sought treatment. For the non-therapy group, there was no relationship between detached-hostile fathers and later homosexuality; whereas for the group who had been in therapy, this variable explained more of the variance than for the entire group (8.4%). Fewer differences were noted for women.
In short, Rampey does in the domain of sexual orientation what he complains about when it comes to drug companies – uses research to paint a misleading picture.
In part two of the interview, Rampey continues to distort things when it comes to harm of ex-gay therapy saying that all APA concern comes from the Shidlo and Schroeder study. He gets some details wrong and does rightly critique the bias involved in that study. However, he completely glosses over the other indications of harm, including the recent Kirk Murphy case. This is a relevant observation because Rampey quotes a 1975 textbook citing many behavioral modification studies which prove sexual reorientation works without harm. Kirk Murphy’s family would dispute that as would I.