NARTH features leader of international efforts to keep homosexuality illegal

This coming weekend, Sharon Slater will speak at the annual conference of the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH). Slater is the President of Family Watch International, an organization that lobbies the United Nations for pro-life and anti-gay causes. In January of 2011, Slater hosted a conference of over 30 United Nations delegates to promote her policy objectives. During the conference, the ex-gay message was prominent with a “the personal testimony of a patient who is successfully reorienting from homosexuality to heterosexuality” and a speech from an expert Slater refused to name.

Earlier this year, Slater claimed that she stopped using Martin Ssempa as a liaison in Africa after she learned about Ssempa’s support for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Slater correctly understands that the bill requires the death penalty for HIV positive gays and she opposes that. However, she refused to condemn prison terms for gays in Uganda or any other country. In essence, her position is the same as Scott Lively’s view – oppose the death penalty but support the stance of African nations who maintain harsh prison terms for GLBT people. The Anti-Homosexuality Bill is once again before Uganda’s Parliament and may be considered on the floor within the next month.

Slater has traveled to Africa several times to speak against relaxing laws on homosexuality. At a Nigerian conference in 2009 – the same year the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was introduced – Slater praised Uganda for refusing to decriminalize homosexuality. Earlier this year, also in Nigeria, Slater commended Nigeria for resisting the UN’s call for decriminalization.

Like Lively, Slater uses NARTH materials as a foundation for her policy positions. On the FWI website, Slater twice refers readers to a 2009 paper by NARTH which reviews studies of sexual orientation change efforts. She uses their materials to support her view that GLB people are not entitled to human rights because sexual orientation is not a fixed trait.

In this context, it is striking that NARTH has refused to declare opposition to criminalization of homosexuality. In December, 2009, I asked NARTH’s leadership about the organization’s position on Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill. At that time, Scott Lively advocated that forced therapy for gays should be included in the bill. NARTH’s operations director, David Pruden, rejected the forced therapy as ineffective. However, NARTH past-president Dean Byrd declined to take a position on criminalization saying,

We are aware of the situation in Uganda but thank you for bringing this to our attention. I am sure that you are aware that as a scientific organization, NARTH does not take political positions; however, we are happy to provide a summary of what science can and cannot say about homosexuality for those who do.

In contrast, NARTH has taken a position on a few political issues. For instance, the organization opposes “gay advocacy in schools” and “same-sex marriage.” Since NARTH has taken a stance on some political issues, it is puzzling that the organization will not on criminalization of homosexuality. Such laws harm affirming and non-affirming GLB people alike.

In light of NARTH’s failure to oppose criminalization, it is troubling that the group invited Slater to speak at their conference.  Ms. Slater is not trained as a clinician, scientist or a researcher; she is an advocate of policies which restrict the basic liberties of GLB people around the world and would do the same in the US if possible. In absence of an official policy on decriminalization, it appears that NARTH’s invitation of Ms. Slater signals the posture of the organization on the matter.

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  • Michael Bussee

    “…it is striking that NARTH has refused to declare opposition to criminalization of homosexuality.”

    Not surprising. NARTH’s close ally, Exodus, took months after the Uganda Bill was introduced. And not without a lot of pushing and prodding from friends and critics.

  • William

    “the personal testimony of a patient who is successfully reorienting from homosexuality to heterosexuality”

    For me, that poses a couple of questions.

    Surely the testimony of one who has successfully reoriented would be much more powerful and convincing, wouldn’t it? So why only the testimony of someone who is successfully reorienting? And how meaningful can it be to speak of doing something successfully if you’re still in the process of doing it (or believe that you are) and haven’t yet fully achieved it?

    Perhaps someone with Michael Bussee’s experience can shed light on this. Michael, does this sound like the kind of stage that you and your Exodus confreres were at when you managed all those years ago to convince the Pattisons that your sexual orientation had changed? Is so, what comments would you make on it now?

  • http://www.canyonwalkerconnections.com Kathy Baldock

    As I understand it, the staunchly anti-gay (but done in love and compassion, of course), Michael Brown is also speaking at this conference. What a group!

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren

    Yes, he is; I talked about him in a prior post.

    NARTH has lost any semblance of being a research group with their invitation of these two activists.

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  • StraightGrandmother

    Line them up Warren. 3 of these groups mentioned in this video I learned a lot about on your website, PFOX I don’t remember you writing about. The top 3 have undeserved influence in our society. On stage now in New Hampshire where there is a movement to remove Marriage rights for sexual minorities, and also civil unions our fav 3′s.

    Love Won Out

    NARTH

    Exodus

    http://youtu.be/S4uM0MDZg3Q

    Only the few of use who regularly read here know that NARTH is not primarily a scientific organization as only 250 out of 1,000 members have any type of medical background, the rest of the membership are people who want to influence public policy.

  • http://www.comingout4christians.net Dave

    NARTH is certainly heading for the extremes with guests like this … As I recall .. just a few years ago .. (perhaps around 2007) .. they were avoiding the whole political thing .. my how things change .. :(

    @SG: Dr. Throckmorton actually has quite a few posts on PFOX .. just search for them on this blog

    @Kathy B: Nice to see you here .. God bless

    Dave

  • StraightGrandmother

    Warren, I checked Wikipedia on NARTH, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Association_for_Research_%26_Therapy_of_Homosexuality

    The Wiki page links to Robert Perloff and on Perloff’s Wicki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Perloff at reference #4 is a link to a document written by Linda Ames Nicolosi with a title of

    “Former APA President Condemns APA for Barring Research”

    the article is about NARTH supporter Robert Perloff. Included in the article is this

    Dr. Warren Throckmorton, immediate past president of the American Mental Health Counselors Association, studied a broad cross-section of research on sexual-orientation change. He says such treatment has been effective, can be conducted in an ethical manner, and should be available to those clients requesting such assistance (6).

    In case you were not aware I thought I would let you know since so many people use Wikipedia.

    Also if anyone knows how to edit a Wiki, then there could be a correction to their Wiki in their Mission statement of

    We respect the right of all individuals to choose their own destiny. NARTH is a professional, scientific organization that offers hope to those who struggle with unwanted homosexuality.

    The facts you have brought to light recently shows that they are not primarily a scientific organization as only 250 out of 1,000 members are in the science field the rest must be people who are political supports not scientist or health care professionals.

    Since you have exposed so much about NARTH on your website would you consider summarizing this in the Criticisms section of their Wicki? I think it would be the right thing to do, especially since they continue to quote you in links and docs on their website. They are also showing you receiving their annual Sigmund Freud Award but the data is blank. If you received a plaque or something maybe you can give it back and then correct the Wiki.

    On their Wicki they reference in #5 the Bieber study and you have just written about that.

  • Patrocles

    Warren,

    you did wonderful work, when you were the one and only person who impartially checked the claims of contrarian schools and scholars in sexual psychology. That’s why I began to read your site.

    Of course, if you want to turn yourself into an LGBT activist, that’s your personal matter.

    But what we really need in our time are people who,too, impartially check the moral and juridical claims of contrarian protagonists in sexual politics (its moral philosophy and its standing in international law). Including the LGBT lobby! And if you don’t do that you unconsciously fall prey to the cheap formulas of lobbyism.

    For example; you say that Slater thinks”that GLB people are not entitled to human rights because sexual orientation is not a fixed trait”. First, I doubt your factual correctness: does Slater in fact promote to treat GLB people like animals? Then, do you try here to describe Slater’s position in itself or the way Slater’s position differs from yours? Are you promoting the idea that non-discrimination is a “human right” or that (at least) people must not be discriminated against on base of “fixed traits”? And would that mean that you have an extra-scientific bias: Homosexuality ought to be seen (and remain!) a “fixed trait” in order to protect the interests of GLB people?

    • http://wthrockmorton.com Warren

      Pat – When I describe Slater’s position, I am describing her position as she has described it. I am examining the claims of an organization that purports to be a scientific organization. Inviting an activist to speak at a scientific conference seems to imply support for the activist’s activism. Otherwise what does she add?

      Pat – If you doubt my factual correctness then prove me wrong. Your style of assuming you know things without reading them is more of an indicator of extra-scientific bias than anything I have written here.

      I am an advocate for decriminalization for sure. However, I doubt many LGB activists would view me as an activist.

  • Jim Guinnessey

    It is amazing to me that in a world ready to collapse from economic deception and greed by the so-called one or two percent of the wizards who control wealth; in a world where various religions are at war; where savage tribalism and racism still endure with vehemence; that an idiotic screwball group like NARTH with yahoo minds like Susan Slater,Linda Harvey and Scott (Deadly) Lively still has its panties in a knot over homosexuality and pondering the best methods to eradicate it by any means (i.e.,execution, life sentences, etc.) still has the gall (and the bucks!) to host these foolish, hateful and bigoted meetings which feature the various evangelical witchdoctors and crackpots spewing forth their twisted and arcane nonsense (and getting paid for it!)

    .

  • StraightGrandmother

    Patrocles, what the heck does this mean?

    impartially check the moral and juridical claims of contrarian protagonists in sexual politics (its moral philosophy and its standing in international law).

    Please break that down into shorter words I can understand. Thx

  • ken

    Patrocles# ~ Nov 1, 2011 at 1:53 am

    “you did wonderful work, when you were the one and only person who impartially checked the claims of contrarian schools and scholars in sexual psychology.”

    he still does pretty good work. Athough, I don’t think he is the only one.

    “Of course, if you want to turn yourself into an LGBT activist, that’s your personal matter. ”

    I don’t even consider myself an LGBT activist, and certainly not Warren.

    “you say that Slater thinks”that GLB people are not entitled to human rights because sexual orientation is not a fixed trait”. First, I doubt your factual correctness: does Slater in fact promote to treat GLB people like animals? ”

    Simply because Slater does not promote treating GLB people like animals (which Warren never suggested), in no way disproves Warren’s claim about Slater’s stance on human rights.

    “Are you promoting the idea that non-discrimination is a “human right” or that (at least) people must not be discriminated against on base of “fixed traits”?”

    Actually, I got the impression he was promoting the idea that a person shouldn’t be thrown in jail just because he is gay. Which based on Warren’s conversation with Slater, that is an idea she doesn’t share with him (or me or many others).

    “And would that mean that you have an extra-scientific bias: Homosexuality ought to be seen (and remain!) a “fixed trait” in order to protect the interests of GLB people?”

    No, it means he recognizes the claim homosexuality is “not a fixed trait” as an alternative way of saying “gays can change.” A claim that is often used to mislead and seldom supported by any real scientific facts.

  • DIRM

    Jim G-

    Your a bright man!

  • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe Brain

    However, I doubt many LGB activists would view me as an activist.

    Oh you are. Not an LGBT activist, or an anti-LGBT activist though. You go where the evidence takes you, and try to be a decent Evangelical Christian too. That requires Activism when you see injustice.

    It’s a very conservative trait, this idea of personal responsibility. Seeing something wrong, and not saying “someone should do something about it” but taking personal responsibility to do something about it yourself.

  • David Blakeslee

    Zoe,

    Agreed.

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  • sam

    Warren,

    I respect what you do, but I think you are reading too much into what Sharon Slater is saying. I read your article on Crosswalk material about her where you have had an interview with her, and I came to conclusion that she is being neutral on what goes on in Africa with anti-homosexuality bills. To be fair, her positions are kinda obscure. Even if Ms. Slater is an advocate of puttting people in jail just for being gay, that does not necessarily make NARTH liable. For example, I was involved in some communiy service to the poor with the members of LDS church, but that involvement didn’t make a Mormon, at all, didn’t influence me to believe in plurality of gods. Do you see what I mean?

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