Undercover Journalist Joins (and Exposes) Toronto Program That Claims to Turn Gay People Straight

While the Christian-led ex-gay movement is dying down in the United States, some “reparative therapy” or “conversion therapy” programs are still alive and well in other parts of the world. In Canada, for example, a government-registered charity called Living Waters (not affiliated with Ray Comfort‘s ministry of the same name) has chapters across the country to help gay people overcome their same-sex attractions.

Hearing of the program, an undercover reporter named Graham Slaughter from the Toronto Star joined a Living Waters chapter from January to May and recently published his account of the experience. In reality Slaughter is openly gay — contentedly so, it seems — making his description of the Christian program all the more interesting (and terrifying).

Graham Slaughter (via Twitter)

The concept of so-called conversion or ex-gay therapy has been widely discredited by nearly every psychological organization out there, as Slaughter points out. Exodus International, the major U.S. organization pushing ex-gay therapy, shut down in June shortly after its president issued an apology to anyone who had been hurt by the practice — namely, almost everyone who’s undergone it.

The American Psychological Association deleted homosexuality from its list of treatable mental disorders 40 years ago. The APA says it’s still unclear what makes a person gay — a gay gene has yet to be discovered — but no research has proved that someone can be made gay by his or her upbringing.

A 2009 APA report found that efforts to change someone’s sexual orientation are ineffective and dangerous; former participants have experienced depression, loss of sexual feeling and even suicidal thoughts.

Nonetheless, programs like Living Waters continue on the premise that a same-sex sexual orientation is not actually something we’re born with, but something forced upon us in childhood. Like most rhetoric around same-sex attraction, the program tends to blame abuse or poor relationships with parents for any given person’s gayness.

Slaughter writes:

During a lesson titled “The Father Wound,” a participant said his father was absent when his mother was pregnant. After considering the teachings, he realized his dad’s absence may be the root of his gay desires — he longed for male affection even inside the womb. Our leaders encouraged this as truth and thanked God for giving him this insight.

That no one is born gay and that the seeds of gay attraction are planted in childhood was a consistent message.

“Any honest scientist will tell you that the idea that you’re born gay is not true. It’s not based on science,” said one of the leaders during a lesson on the “true” masculine.

The idea that homosexuality is a lie is a pervasive one here. Slaughter says that Dave Lawson, one of the leaders of Living Waters, inspired a session with this profoundly incorrect statement:

“There is no such thing as a homosexual, and I’ll say why. Under the way God has created us, we are only attracted to the opposite sex,” Lawson says.

Homosexuality is frequently referred to as an addiction in this particular program, and Slaughter says he used this comparison to come to a faux revelation while attending group sessions.

“There is compulsion to engage in the behaviour, loss of control, experiencing the behaviour and then the negative emotional state when behaviour is over,” he said. “Yup, sounds like an addiction to me.”

I hadn’t ever considered myself an addict to homosexuality, but after today I realized it, I told the group.

“Congratulations. It takes some addicts 20 years finally to get that insight,” the leader said, placing a hand on my shoulder. “Let’s pray on this.”

In response, their wish for him is almost comical:

As three leaders placed their hands on me for prayer, one had a vision: he pictured me standing between two naked statues, one of Michelangelo’s David and another of the Venus de Milo.

“Instead of getting that rush from David, you can get that rush from Venus. I’m seeing that as your goal,” he told me.

As if this entire program weren’t upsetting enough, let’s not forget that it’s actually a charity registered to receive donations for its “work.” In order to keep its status as a charity, it must prove it provides a “public benefit,” which by definition excludes any action that can be deemed harmful to the public.


As a government-registered charity under the Canada Revenue Agency, Living Waters collects the bulk of its revenue in tax-receipted donations. In the last three years, these donations have accounted for 62 per cent of the charity’s total revenue.

This money has helped Living Waters establish programs in churches across Canada, from Charlottetown to Winnipeg to Edmonton to Vancouver, where a chic brownstone serves as national headquarters. Six of its top employees make between $40,000 and $79,999 a year.

Slaughter’s story is a fascinating read and includes more excerpts from his fellow session-goers’ stories, including what brought some of them to the program in the first place and what they got out of it. It’s unclear how Living Waters is doing since news of the undercover investigation has gotten out, but I can’t imagine they’re taking it well. Slaughter included the following from an official Living Waters statement in his piece:

Living Waters has posted several statements on its website since the Star investigation began. On June 20, it wrote that only five per cent of participants had “self-identified unwanted same sex attraction.”

It continued: “We are saddened to recently learn that a journalist from a mainstream media outlet assumed a false identity … and betrayed the trust of fellow small group members who wanted healing within a loving community.”

In the most recent statement, on Sept. 30, it wrote: “With ongoing research we have grown in our awareness that it is highly unusual for an individual to shift from being same sex attracted to being exclusively heterosexually attracted and we discuss with our leaders and volunteers the importance of not promising this unusual kind of ‘change.’”

Sounds a lot like what Exodus leaders wrote before they shut down, doesn’t it? Even if ex-gay leaders don’t “promise change,” they do everything within their means to encourage it, no matter how many legitimate health organizations tell them they’re wrong. And yet, at least in the United States, society is recoiling from ex-gay therapy from every angle: several states have banned or are working to ban this practice, the foremost national group advocating it is no more, and a record number of Americans believe gay people are born that way.

Slaughter did us a service with this piece. When — not if, but when — Living Waters and similar organizations finally join Exodus and close their doors for good, we’ll know without a doubt it’s for the best.

About Camille Beredjick

Camille is a twentysomething working in the LGBT nonprofit industry. She runs an LGBT news blog at gaywrites.org.

  • Rationalist1

    Being a Toronto resident I was glad the Toronto Star exposed this horrible practice. Fortunately this attitude towards gays is fast becoming unacceptable in civil society and it is incumbent upon all of us, especially those of us who are not gay, to denounce this attitude and practice.

  • C Peterson

    If the premise that homosexuality is some sort of medical or psychological condition is taken as true (which seems to be the view of Living Waters), than this process should be legally forbidden on the grounds that any “treatment” must be conducted according to the same sort of rules as any other medical treatment, using established practices and conducted by licensed medical practitioners. If the premise is taken as false (which it is, of course) than the process should be forbidden on the grounds that it can’t work, and is therefore a form of false advertising.

    There are really no conditions under which this kind of “therapy” should be legally allowed.

  • invivoMark

    Science has repeatedly shown that homosexuality is something inborn, and that it is influenced primarily by maternal hormones.

    Of course, that’s not what’s important. Sexual shaming is wrong either way. What’s important is that this is a clear case of theists lying for Jesus (dog bites man, I know), and claiming to do so as charity.

    Even if the psychological trauma of conversion “therapy” weren’t harmful to the public (which is like saying, “even if lava weren’t hot”), misinforming the public is.

  • Art_Vandelay

    Let me preface this by saying that I 100% accept the premise that homosexuality is something that you’re born with as evidenced by a long list of things. So I’m in no way challenging that but I just want to ask a question to those that know more about biology than me (probably 90% of you). I never understood how homosexuality fits into evolution by NS. It’s my understanding that all traits happen at the gene level (which I’m probably wrong about too). So how, in a process so reliant on reproduction, does a trait get selected that’s not at all conducive to reproduction?

  • allein

    So if they admit that the change they are (not!)promising is so “highly unusual” then what is the point of them being in business? I can just see the ad campaign now: “We don’t promise to do something for you that is almost certainly guaranteed to fail, anyway!”

    “Instead of getting that rush from David, you can get that rush from Venus. I’m seeing that as your goal,” he told me.

    So…trade your gay “addiction” for an amputation fetish?

  • allein

    Well, they still can reproduce (in general), so being gay isn’t in and of itself selecting against reproducing. A trait just has to be good enough to get by, after all. There are also some hypotheses out there about a group having gay members who don’t reproduce can be beneficial because they can help provide for the group without adding more people. (I don’t know how much stock the experts put in the idea of evolution acting at the group level like that, but I’ve come across the idea a couple times. It seems to fit with something else I’ve read about, which is that the more older brothers a man has, the more likely he is to be gay. I am by no means an expert, though; I’m sure someone else can explain it better than I can.)

  • C Peterson

    The flaw in your thinking lies in the assumption that all traits happen at the gene level. Many traits are influenced by environment and development, as well. At least in animal models, for example, sexuality is observed to be influenced by the amniotic environment. In humans, identical twins can result in individuals with different sexual orientations. It is increasingly clear that phenotype is determined by a much more complex array of components than simple genotype.

    And even outside this fairly recent understanding, there is no reason to assume that genetically determined homosexuality is somehow selected against by natural selection. In many species, mechanisms exist that limit reproductive success to only a small fraction of the entire population. Non-reproducing individuals may also contribute to the success of a species- indeed, the survival of the species may depend upon them. While this hasn’t been obviously demonstrated in the case of humans, the fact that the model exists in other species certainly demonstrates that under at least some circumstances adaptation may select for non-reproducing individuals.

  • Pawel Samson

    I’ve read about a study that said gay men have sisters who are more fertile than the average woman, which could indicate that the gay men and their sisters share a gene that affects them differently. For men, it can “activate” homosexuality, while for women in leads to increased fertility. This could explain why a gene that is reliant on reproduction can by passed from generation to generation.

    I’m no biologist either, but it’s a neat hypothesis. Still doesn’t explain female homosexuality or bisexuality though.

  • Nemo

    I have no doubt that homosexuality could be “cured” within human power. Since sexual attraction exists within the brain, you would need to only adjust/eliminate those portions dealing with it. Rewire a neuron here, replace a neurotransmitter there, and any sort of behavior or feeling you don’t like can be eliminated. We can’t do this yet, but as technology advanced, it’s sure to happen.
    Of course, anyone who actually thinks that doing this is a good idea is seriously insane, and is possibly a science fiction villain. I only hope people read my whole post before responding.

  • C Peterson

    I agree that homosexuality is some combination of a physical and psychological state, and therefore subject to modification given the appropriate technology.

    I disagree that it is necessarily a bad idea to change sexual orientation medically, however. I can even imagine a time in the not-too-distant future when sexual orientation is viewed in the way cosmetic surgery is now, with people choosing orientation based on many personal and social factors, and perhaps even changing it several times over their lives. While that seems odd according to today’s norms and ethics, it may not always be so.

  • Stev84

    Not every animal in a species needs to reproduce in order for the species as a whole to survive. In fact out of control breeding can be a bad thing. In some cases it’s also not a bad thing to have spare couples around to take care of eggs or young animals others neglect.

    I’ve read an article about female albatrosses that mate with males and then breed the eggs and raise the young in female/female couples (and a very high percentage of the population did so). So pair bonding isn’t necessarily the same as reproduction.

  • Stev84

    They contradict themselves badly. If “we are only attracted to the opposite sex”, then why the later effort to redirect one’s “rush”?

  • observer

    I’ll bet you when we do reach that point, homophobes will admit that homosexuality IS an inborn trait…yet it’s still evil.

  • The Blonde Giraffe

    Many scientists believe it evolved through natural selection as a population control “insurance policy” if you will. This happens in over 500 other species as well, and is not unique to homo sapiens. Homosexuality may help keep populations of species in balance and bisexuality speaks to adaptation. I think sexuality is a gray area, some lean towards black (straight) some are in the middle (bisexual) and some lean towards white (homosexual). There are many behaviors other than homosexuality that are even more difficult to be explained by “NS” for the record.

  • baal

    Art, there is both positive and negative selection. If having gay individuals doesn’t reduce the overall fitness of a species, then being gay wouldn’t necessarily be removed from the population pool. Given the range of animals which engage in homosexual behaviour (almost all of them), desiring gay sex is not limiting factor on species survival.

    Also keep in mind that the evolutionary solutions that could give you 100%het populations might be costlier to a specie’s fitness than having homosexuality.

  • Art_Vandelay

    Oh, I know it doesn’t reduce the overall fitness of a species. I was just inquiring as to why it doesn’t. Of course, everyone has come through already and given me very good answers so I appreciate that. Thanks everyone!

  • Nate Frein

    It also sounds like a powerful tool to give pedophiles who wish to reduce or redirect their urges.

  • C.L. Honeycutt

    Homosexuality seems to be related to gene expression rather than pure Mendelian genetics. Many genes are activated or deactivated according to the levels of certain hormones at certain times during pregnancy. While gay people may reproduce less frequently than straight people, the related genes are useful or at least neutral regardless of how they’re expressed. That’s why most gays are born from straights. ^.-

    It’s worth noting that we do have evidence of this epigenetic origin. There is some correlation between being gay and having other features that develop epigenetically. Gays are more likely to be left-handed and to have unusual hair growth patterns (I can’t remember if clockwise or counter-clockwise is the “norm”), atypical finger length ratios, or naturally higher pitches to their voices than are heterosexuals. These and more are all traits developed in the womb.

    This is what is so remarkably stupid about anti-gay arguments. Their claims are identical to saying that no one is born left-handed. And people can and have been forced to perform with their off-hand as children because of a bizarre notion still found in some areas in the U.S. that left-handedness is somehow inferior. The invariable result is damage to the child’s abilities to learn and to write, as well as attendant self-esteem and education setbacks. (That was done to me, and I’ve been told that the area I grew up in STILL does that in public schools.) Of course, the damage from anti-gay “therapy” is far worse.

  • skeptical_inquirer

    I think it’s partly genetic in that a study noted that sisters of gay men tend to have more kids so genetically it’s not considered disadvantageous overall.

    But yes, that’s not what’s important. Quackery and making people miserable on false pretenses need to be shut down.

  • LrdVapid

    I think this idea is covered by Richard Dawkins “The Selfish Gene”.

  • C Peterson

    Pedophilia is an entirely different thing. When it becomes subject to medical treatment, I’m sure it will by by an entirely different mechanism than anything used to change sexual orientation. To think they might be the same is like arguing that antibiotics cure cancer.

    Socially and ethically, homosexuality and pedophilia are very different, as well. Sexual orientation is something we could allow to be by choice, as it has no social or personal downside. Pedophilia, of course, often results in uncontrolled behavior patterns that are not just harmful to the pedophile, but to others as well. I don’t imagine that our society will ever choose to allow pedophilia to be a choice. Any medical treatment will be used (probably mandatorily) to reverse what is likely to be seen as a pathological condition.

  • The Other Weirdo

    But… but… Jesus!

  • The Other Weirdo

    Maybe it’s just evolution talking. “Say, that’s an awesome gay brother you’ve got there. Shame he won’t be having any new kids. Here are half a dozen more to compensate.”

  • The Other Weirdo

    I saw this movie.

  • ZeldasCrown

    If I were this journalist, I don’t think there’s any way I could have kept a straight face during that moment. I would have “blown my cover” right then and there (my mental image is of all the men running the “therapy” clustered around and touching a gay man while talking about attraction to a statue of a naked man, while admitting their attraction to a statue of a naked woman). I might not have laughed out loud, but there definitely would have been a smirk on my face.

  • SansDeus

    Any honest scientist …

    So any scientist who disagrees with them is dishonest.
    Nice straw man they’ve got there.. Where did they cherry-pick it from?

  • jdm8

    “We’re sorry that he blew our cover and exposed our lies”

  • The Other Weirdo

    You mean like when you need to redecorate your pad or get an awesome new wardrobe?

  • RowanVT

    In a social species like ours, having healthy but non-reproducing members could actually be quite beneficial. They would be providing resources for the group, but not taking them away with offspring of their own. It would be giving those children already there an extra set of ‘parents’. More resources (food, protection, etc) means more of the children will survive.

  • baal

    Other way around – now that the family has 3, 4, 5 sons, we (evolution) compensates by having a 6th son who is less likely to reproduce. Even with this correction, I think this idea is bogus. The ‘missing’ children that ‘need to be compensated’ aren’t needed (and there for missing) and are a small number (% flux) in comparison to other problems like food availability or (more modernly) death due to accident (such as drunk driving).

  • RowanVT

    Or “Say, that’s an awesome gay brother you have. Maybe because you’re family he’ll help support *your* kids since he won’t be having any.”

  • Anna

    While gay people may reproduce less frequently than straight people, the related genes are useful or at least neutral regardless of whether they’re expressed. That’s why most gays are born from straights.

    It’s also true that until very recently, not reproducing wasn’t an option. No matter their orientation, most people in most cultures around the world were expected to marry and produce offspring. That would obviously include the vast majority of gay, lesbian, and bisexual people. Being able to refuse marriage and childrearing is rather a luxury of the modern, developed age. In previous times and cultures, there was no viable way to remain single and childless in a society that expected otherwise.

  • C Peterson


    It’s actually a staple of modern science fiction that in the near future people will casually change not just their sexual orientations (and over a broad spectrum, not just two), but also their physical sexual natures (again, over a wide spectrum).

  • baal

    It’s not unusual in India to have multigenerational family housing and uncles in the same household. They share rent and otherwise help out. It’s less about helping *your* kids and more about making sure the family is cared for.

  • flyb

    He’s very interested in something on the ceiling. Now I’m curious myself.

  • Jim Jones

    All such discussions are pointless since the one thing humans do excessively well is ‘reproduce’ our brains out – at least until we run out of food.

    Pandas? Not so much but where is their ex-gay ministry? Who will save the pandas from teh gay?

  • Jim Jones

    Be careful what you wish for. Human sexuality is weird and fiddling with it may have serious side effects.

  • baal

    I’m more than a little bothered that the gay ‘reparative – therapy’ is subjectable to expose. I’m not concerned about the undercover work but that the ‘conversion therapy’ groups exist with out licensing and evidence or at least regular psych care licensing. If groups like this need to hide their practices, that in and of itself tells you there is something wrongful and maybe even criminal about their activities.

  • Art_Vandelay

    Yup, it makes perfect sense. I don’t know how it managed to elude me.

  • Spuddie

    We have examples of the dishonest scientists. There are the ones on the payroll of various evangelical organizations with innocuous sounding names putting out bullshit self-published papers which are bandied about by various theocratic minded organizations.

    David Bartonesque lying for the lord is not limited to History.

  • C Peterson

    Heck, some cultures have viewed marriage as a tool purely for the purpose of legally defining issues of inheritance, and been entirely open to relationships (both homosexual and heterosexual) outside of that marriage.

    Humans have developed many successful relationship models over the millennia; for Christians to pretend there is just one is ridiculous.

  • Anna

    I’m also not convinced that homosexuality has any meaningful effect on frequency of reproduction. Admittedly, I’m not too up on the specifics of evolution, but if (in the past) homosexuals were reproducing just as often as heterosexuals, would evolution have been “working” to either keep or eliminate the trait? It seems to me like the trait would have been ignored as irrelevant to the continuation of the species.

  • Spuddie
  • C Peterson

    I’m not wishing for anything one way or the other. I’m simply pointing out that sexual orientation has the potential of becoming a casual choice.

  • invivoMark

    Let’s not conflate pedophiles with child abusers. The majority of pedophiles never abuse children. And while there’s obviously overlap between the two groups, there was a study (I can’t find it at the moment) in the UK where it was noted that there were significant psychological differences between them. As I recall, the study surveyed over a hundred respondents in either group (non-criminal pedophiles and convicted child abusers).

    Maybe we’ll make such a therapy mandatory for child abusers, but to do so for all pedophiles is tantamount to convicting for thought crimes.

  • Spuddie

    I am sure there is a David Bowie joke somewhere in there. =)

  • badgerchild

    This is also the best argument I’ve heard for polyamorous marriages. I can’t honestly see myself in one unless both my husband and I were equally certain that we couldn’t live without the new spouse, and that we could keep things stable between us. But I admit that people may find themselves in that enviable position from time to time, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The advantages seem pretty clear.

  • Raising_Rlyeh

    “a gay gene has yet to be discovered ”

    As a gay man what I find hard with the argument about any sort of gay gene is the fact that the ones that use the argument do not understand genetics to begin with. Otherwise they would understand that many traits that we possess, including skin color, are affected by multiple genes so the chances of one gene controlling sexual orientation is close to impossible in my opinion.

    I absolutely hate the argument that we choose to be gay, but another thought that I have is “so what if it is a choice. it does not hurt society and if you can’t be discriminated against for your choice of religion why should someone be discriminated against for their choice in partners.” Again I know that it’s not a choice, but I thought that I’d share my thoughts.

    As for the article I thought it was interesting and I love the fact that they think they can help people even though they are not counselors. If they did this with any other profession, take medicine for an example, they would be charged with practicing without a license.

  • SansDeus

    That is very true, though I was aiming for humor and didn’t elaborate very much in my brevity.

    I’m not trying to jump to the conclusion that all scientists are honest or dishonest if they draw a different conclusion from one another.

    Peer review often exposes dishonest scientists as long as the data are testable and the reviewer isn’t influenced or biased as well.

    I would say however that if you have a scientist with a record of being dishonest, it’s fair to label them as such.

  • TiltedHorizon

    “I absolutely hate the argument that we choose to be gay”

    I love the argument, primarily because it shows how little effort was made in the determination. (none)

  • Rain

    “There is no such thing as a homosexual, and I’ll say why. Under the way God has created us, we are only attracted to the opposite sex,” Lawson says.

    Uhhh yeah, doesn’t sound very “scientifical”. I wonder why he sounds so sure of himself. Makes me wonder about other people that sound so sure of themselves, lol.

  • allein

    but another thought that I have is “so what if it is a choice…”

    This is something I think often gets overlooked in these discussions. There are a million and one things we choose to do in our lives that other people disaprove of for one reason or another. For the most part, no one is out there insisting that we need to make those things illegal or that our government should discriminate against those who engage in them.

  • Tainda

    I hate that argument as well for the same reason.

    I’m a huge believer in, if it doesn’t hurt anyone and everyone involved is a consenting adult, go for it.

  • Ogre Magi

    and people wonder why I hate christians so much

  • Dorothy

    i’m both embarrassed that this is happening in canada, and glad that it has been exposed. For too long, most canadians have believed that this sort of stuff only happens south of the border. Too many of my friends don’t realize there are crazy fundies here, too.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    And it should be subject to clinical trials in which its effectiveness and safety could be demonstrated. This is just quackery. And dangerous. (Read any ex-ex-gay website like Truth Wins Out for stories of what happens when the ex-gay therapy fails.)

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    Agreed. My own observation is that human sexuality is far more complex than anyone wants to admit. Messing around with things we don’t understand would almost certainly have unintended consequences.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    It’s possible that it’s the biproduct of another trait or combination of traits. In other words, it may not be a single gene but a combination of two or more genes that results in same sex attraction. OR it could be a combination of a gene (or two or more) in combination with some environmental factors. The truth is that we don’t know. But just looking for a single gene is simplistic and unlikely to be fruitful.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    Exactly. I laugh when Christians claim that marriage has always been one man and one woman. You’d think they’d never read their own Bibles. For much of history marriage was one man and as many women as he wanted. In many parts of the world that is still practiced. (In fact, I’ve yet to hear a convincing argument for why polygamy fell out of practice among Jews. Just speculation, but nothing documented.)

  • Gregory Peterson

    You can choose to self-identify as Gay, but that’s another thing.

  • Gregory Peterson

    Some, I think, are already saying that. As an inborn trait, it’s not evil to be a “homosexual,” but it is evil to act like one. One should act like a eunuch or something, perhaps? (Matthew 19). Come to think of it, I think that was more or less C. S. Lewis’ position back in the 1930s.

  • Gregory Peterson

    I think that Hunter S. Thompson made that point years ago somewhere.

  • C Peterson

    I’m certainly not conflating the two… quite the opposite.

    I do believe that pedophilia is a psycho-physical condition, like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Likewise for most forms of psychopathy. Given reliable diagnosis methods and reasonably low risk treatments, mandatory treatment strikes me as reasonable (at least, with an alternative of voluntary isolation from society). Since the harms of these disorders extends to risking other people, society has every right to take action- just as it does in mandatorily isolating or quarantining those with serious communicable diseases.

  • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com/ Captain Cassidy

    That’s how I feel too. It’s not a choice, but even if it were, any choice you made regarding your private life would be NONE OF MY DANG BIDNESS. Since the most harmful of Christianists hang their hats on the “it’s a choice” peg, we might as well hammer down on it not being a choice (that was, I must note, a real blow to me as an almost-deconverted Christian after moving to Portland, where I met actual gay people who seemed very sure they’d been born that way; this and many other blatant falsehoods I’d been told made me wonder what else my religion had gotten wrong, and the answer proved to be “pretty much everything”), but it wouldn’t matter either way if it were or weren’t–consenting adults don’t have to check with anybody else before sharing their hearts, bodies, or lives with each other in whatever configuration they like.

  • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com/ Captain Cassidy

    Oh, that’s the direction of the fuck his god doesn’t give.

  • Raising_Rlyeh

    That’s the catholic church position pretty much. Basically that being gay isn’t a choice, but acting on the urges is a choice.

  • invivoMark

    So you would prosecute people for thought crimes? I can’t agree with that at all.

    Also, since the mind is the brain, everything is a physical condition. Calling something a “psycho-physical” condition is redundant.

  • ShoeUnited

    Some pastor has a paraplegic fetish.

  • SayBlade

    So, what I saw in the movie “But I’m a Cheerleader” was not made up.

    I would be interested to hear of women’s experiences with these so-called Christian reparative therapies.

  • C Peterson

    Who said I’d prosecute people for thought crimes? I didn’t even discuss the concept of thought crimes. I’m not talking about crimes, I’m not talking about prosecution.

  • invivoMark

    Pedophilia isn’t a physical crime, so it must be a thought crime. And if you’re mandating treatment, then there must be punishment for noncompliance. Hence, you are talking about prosecution of thought crime.

    What you’re talking about differs only in scale from indefinitely imprisoning someone because they *might* be a terrorist.

  • C Peterson

    I don’t think pedophilia is a crime at all. I think it is an illness. Like tuberculosis. If you are a carrier of tuberculosis, you are a public health risk, and you can be required to undergo treatment, under confinement if necessary. That doesn’t make having TB criminal, and it doesn’t make mandatory treatment a punishment.

  • invivoMark

    But you’re advocating criminalizing untreated pedophilia. No matter what you call it, that makes it a thought crime.

    Your analogy is terrible. If you have XDR TB, you won’t be quarantined because you might choose to infect somebody in a moment of low self-control. You’d be quarantined because being in public spaces is a danger in itself. Being a pedophile is not a harm. Having XDR TB and being in public is a harm. You don’t get to pick and choose whom you infect and when. You can infect someone just by breathing near them.

    You can’t accidentally molest children by breathing.

  • C Peterson

    But you’re advocating criminalizing untreated pedophilia.

    I have no idea what you think you are reading. I’m advocating no such thing.

    I think my analogy is just fine. I you are a carrier of an infectious disease, the decision to mandate treatment depends on the risk you pose. The same holds true for mental illnesses. Given a reliable way of diagnosing pedophilia and its severity, there is no reason not to think that a statistical risk to society can’t be associated with that, and a rational decision made to mandate treatment in some cases.

  • invivoMark

    So in your ideal world, a pedophile could elect not to undergo treatment, and be entirely unimpeded in that decision? I don’t think that’s what you’re saying.

    Again, the risk posed by someone with a highly communicable and dangerous disease depends directly on their existence in public places. It’s a risk you can empirically determine, too. It’s binary. Are you infected? Yes/no. If yes, then you are committing harm by being in public.

    You can’t do the same for pedophiles, because most pedophiles will not commit any harm as a result of their pedophilia. Sure, you could calculate some “statistical risk”, but what’s your threshold? What’s to keep you from also forcing restrictions and mandatory treatment for other groups of people? Why stop at pedophilia? Maybe you can statistically correlate other variables with crime. Are people who read a particular book more likely to steal? Are people with a particular genetic allele more likely to cause public disturbance? Do people who listen to a particular song commit murder more often? Who draws the line?

    This is exactly why we don’t place legal restrictions on people based on statistical correlations to behavior.

  • C Peterson

    In my ideal world a pedophile whose tendencies are strong enough to make him a risk to others would be identified and treated before any harm is done, ideally as a child. In the case of an adult, I would generally allow a pedophile who is statistically likely to engage in sex with a child to forgo treatment, but only by agreeing to isolation.

    I don’t understand why you think the risks associated with mental conditions should be viewed any differently than the risks associated with physical conditions. With appropriate technology, both can be assessed rationally. The fact that we can’t currently assess those risks adequately doesn’t argue against the concept.

    I do think that in the long run, we will understand the connection between certain negative or dangerous behaviors and correctable mental and physical states. When that time comes, I expect that our ethical system will require treatment in some cases.

    We are social animals. Societal rights have to be balanced with individual rights. Sometimes an individual must submit to something he doesn’t choose in order for society to work. That said, it is unclear why a pedophile would choose not to be cured if that option existed. Most pedophiles feel out of control and it seems a common theme that they hate what they are, and wish to be otherwise. They generally recognize themselves as broken.

  • invivoMark

    “In the case of an adult, I would generally allow a pedophile who is statistically likely to engage in sex with a child to forgo treatment, but only by agreeing to isolation.”

    So… criminalization.

    I don’t see why you’re having a hard time understanding the difference between punishing a behavior that endangers others (going into a crowded public area while carrying a dangerous, communicable, and untreatable disease) and punishing a condition that correlates with a crime.

    I also don’t think we’ll ever be able to reach an acceptable threshold of prediction to exercise so much control over a person’s life (we are talking about mind control here, you realize). This isn’t Minority Report, we don’t have psychic precogs telling us who’s going to commit a crime in the future unless we stop it. We can, at best, find correlating factors, such as antisocial behavior patterns and lifestyles, and maaaaybe particular patterns of thought (if we’re going all futuristic here) that indicate attraction to children. But again, what’s your threshold? If we find that someone has a 5% chance of abusing children based on the specific set of factors we are able to measure, does that validate mind control?

    I agree with you that most of the dangerous pedophiles would likely voluntarily opt for treatment if it were available and if it were not stigmatized. But just because some people are okay with it doesn’t mean we get to make it mandatory for everyone else.

  • Dez

    Me too. I haven’t heard anything on the effects on lesbians.

  • C Peterson

    It is only you who equates quarantine to criminalization.

  • invivoMark

    Imposing legal consequences for an action (or, in this case, a state of being) is criminalization.

  • Christian and Critical

    Isn’t that exactly the thing, though? People can self-identify as whatever they want. If some are uncomfortable in their gay skin, why shouldn’t they seek an identity with which they are more comfortable, one which better conforms to their values and life experience? Surely the “Q” and the “T” parts of LGBTQ attest to identity as a social construct? And am I the only one who thinks the story reads more like a weird caricature than serious journalism? The guy lied through his teeth to get his story…

  • baal

    Sigh. I recently heard a great talk by a “T”. She knew she was a she from an early age and spent the better part of 3 decades feeling like she was living a lie by presenting as a he.

    If your values include being comfortable living a lie, more power to you christian_and_critical. For most folks, it’s stressful if not psychologically damaging. You do not get to claim “T” and “Q” folks as supporters of your christian bullshit on this point.

    Lastly, investigative journalists often have to fake credentials or take a job like meat packing in order to get access to the behind closed doors areas. It’s usually considered serious journalism since wrong doers (in this case, christian ‘therapy’) are hiding their abuse and criminal behavior.

  • Christian and Critical

    Bullshit? Seriously? I guess some atheists are more friendly than others :)

    I’ll take your point on “T”. But what about Q. I thought queer theory was about avoiding categorization. I certainly wouldn’t suggest it *endorses* those who choose to prioritize values over desires, but at the very least wouldn’t it allow for a wide spectrum of sexual expression, even no expression at all? What am I missing?

  • baal

    Religious conservatives do not get to say that their views are supported by anypart of the the LGBTQ community. It’s misappropriation. At best, you could claim support from individual LGBTQ persons but only after they tell you that.

    The context of the OP is flat out abuse on the LGBTQ community by the religious one – even if some of the LGBTQ folks were mentally or socially pushed to agreeing to that mode of abuse (you call therapy).

    The fact that some folks identify as queer (to avoid labels and categorization as you suggest among other reasons) doesn’t support the contention that conversion therapy is acceptable.

    Like getting your bones broken with a hammer, Conversion Therapy is always bad shit to do to anyone.

  • Christian and Critical

    I whole heartedly agree conversion therapy is “bad shit”. But I’m not calling “therapy” the activities described in the article. There’s no medical, psychiatric or therapeutic context described – just like-minded people praying together.