Recently there have been some momentous milestones for the LGBTI community including the United States finally making marriage a right for couples of the same sex. It has been celebrated largely because, for the longest time, it didn’t seem like the US (which remains to be the most influential country in the world) was inclined to break away from its strongly traditional, Christian foundation.
With the bill passed, the overall attitude toward gay individuals is expected to change – many hope that there will be no more condemnation of what’s long been branded an “alternative lifestyle,” and that gay people everywhere, not just in America, will no longer be marginalised. Australia, however, is still yet to legally endorse gay marriage.
In an effort to further support the developing LGBTI community, there’s a move for gay conversion therapy to be abolished or taken out from the service menu of counselling centres in Australia, the UK, and everywhere else. A major “ex-gay” organisation called Exodus has shut down already.
Many do not agree with the purpose of this therapy, said to be designed for those who do not believe that being who or what they are is a sin or anything abnormal (and is meant to encourage them to work toward becoming heterosexual). If people have already decided on the person that they are, and they wish to be happy with their true self, this type of gay therapy is not only counterproductive but completely disrespectful toward them.
In fact, the American Psychological Association (APA) Council of Representatives passed a resolution on so-called reparative therapy (gay conversion therapy) in 1997. The resolution raised ethical concerns about attempts to change sexual orientation and reaffirmed psychology’s opposition to homophobia and a client’s right to unbiased treatment.
Most importantly, they affirmed that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and clearly stated that the APA opposes all portrayals of lesbian, gay and bisexual people as mentally ill and in need of treatment due to their sexual orientation.
For the community, it’s of utmost importance to establish normalcy and pride; gay conversion or reparative therapy works against this objective. Plus, it can intensify confusion and have LGBTI people feel like they are second-rate citizens yet again, which many today are still bound to believe.
The kind of psychological support that LGBTI people require (especially now that they are legally recognised as equals to heterosexuals in many parts of the world), the community believes, should be focused on effectively dealing with the remaining challenges of being deemed “out of the ordinary” for a long time and presenting solutions so the best quality of life is achieved for this population.
If you’re a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex person who needs help or support, please search for one of our LGBTI-friendly counsellors and therapists.
photo credit: rainbow peace flag, castro, san francisco