Media Gets Brazil Ruling on Sexual Orientation Therapy All Wrong
By Peter Sprigg
The LGBT activist movement has long been notorious for using a variety of untruths and/or distortions to advance their social and political agenda.
In few areas has this been so blatant and shocking as in the current all-out war against the freedom of clients and therapists to pursue sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE).
For example, we are repeatedly told (falsely) that scientific evidence has proven that all SOCE is harmful. Yet even the Left-leaning American Psychological Association—although critical of SOCE—was forced to admit:
Early and recent research studies provide no clear evidence of the prevalence of harmful outcomes among people who have undergone efforts to change their sexual orientation. . . Thus, we cannot conclude how likely it is that harm will occur from SOCE [emphasis added].
The mainstream media’s complicity (or ignorance) in all this is highlighted by the continuing use of the term “conversion therapy” in reference to a practice whose actual practitioners refer to it as “sexual reorientation therapy,” “sexual orientation change efforts,” or “SOCE;” or the more recent “sexual attraction fluidity exploration in therapy” or “SAFE-T;” or “reparative therapy”—but not “conversion therapy.”
Another claim made by critics of SOCE is that it is premised on the belief that homosexuality is a mental disorder—a belief they claim was discredited by the American Psychological Association’s vote in 1973 to remove homosexuality from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). However, the 1973 decision was not based on any clear-cut body of scientific evidence proving that homosexuality is normal, natural, and harmless. Instead, as a result of aggressive political activism, the APA simply changed the definition of a “mental disorder” in such a way as to exclude homosexuality, by making it contingent on the presence of “subjective distress.”
While it is probably true that most therapists who assist with sexual orientation change efforts do not consider homosexuality to be a normal and natural variant of human sexuality, it is not necessary to classify it as a “mental disorder” to justify their work. Many people who experience same-sex attractions do experience “subjective distress” about those feelings, and that alone is sufficient to justify allowing therapists to assist in overcoming those attractions, if that is the goal the client chooses.
All this background is necessary to understand why I was skeptical about an Associated Press article published recently under the headline, “Brazil ruling that homosexuality is disease to be appealed.” According to the article, Brazil’s “Judge Waldemar Claudio de Carvalho ruled last week that homosexuality could be considered a disease that could be treated with sexual orientation conversion therapies.” The article suggested that the ruling had the effect of overturning a 1999 resolution by Brazil’s “Federal Council of Psychology” (abbreviated “CFP” in Portuguese) aimed at “prohibiting psychologists from treating homosexuality as a disease.”
An article from the British newspaper The Guardian offered more detail, noting that the case was “brought by Rozangela Justino, an evangelical Christian and psychologist whose licence was revoked in 2016 after she offered ‘conversion therapy.’” However, I was still doubtful that we were getting the whole story on this so-called “ruling that homosexuality is disease,” so I reached out to Julio Severo, a Brazilian pro-family activist and Christian blogger, for more information.
After researching the issue, Severo confirmed my suspicions with an article on his English-language website. Severo offers an English translation of the CFP’s “Resolution 001/1990” which includes the following:
- [H]omosexuality is not a disease, disturbance or perversion;
- Psychologists shall not use any action for making homoerotic behaviors or practices pathological, nor shall they use coercion to direct homosexuals to unsolicited treatments.
- Psychologists shall not offer their opinions, . . in regard to homosexuals as sufferers of psychic disorders.
However, the private practice of sexual reorientation therapy with consenting clients who are distressed about unwanted same-sex attractions does not, in and of itself, violate any of these restrictions. In addition, a Google translation of a Portuguese language news article says explicitly, “The preliminary decision of federal judge Waldemar Cláudio de Carvalho maintains the full text of Resolution 01/99.”
However, Severo does say that the resolution also included a paragraph saying:
- Psychologists shall not collaborate with events and services proposing treatment and cures of homosexualities.
This appears to be the only part of the CFP resolution that the judge actually modified, by ordering, as Severo translates it,
that the Federal Council of Psychology [must] not interpret [its resolution] to hinder psychologists from promoting studies or giving professional care, in a private setting, regarding . . . sexual (re)orientation, thereby ensuring to them full scientific freedom about the subject, with no censorship or prior permission from the Federal Council of Psychology.
The translated article quotes the judge as expanding on the importance of “scientific freedom,” saying that a total ban on such therapy would
prohibit the deepening of the scientific studies related to (sexual) orientation, thus affecting the scientific freedom of the country . . . insofar as it prevents and makes unfeasible the investigation of the most important aspect of psychology [which] is human sexuality.
The translated article also says the judge’s decision “underscores the reserved nature of the service and prohibits advertising and publicity” for sexual reorientation therapy.
Nevertheless, a spokesman for the FCP condemned the decision, taking issue with the idea that the FCP policy interferes with research. According to The Guardian,
“We have no power over research,” he said. “The way it was put by the judge gave the impression that we prohibited research which is not true.”
Yet it is hard to understand how anyone could do “research” on sexual reorientation therapy if no one is permitted to engage in such therapy.
In summary, a very modest ruling by a Brazilian judge in defense of freedom for clients, therapists, and researchers has been distorted by the media (especially the Associated Press) into a judicial ruling that homosexuality is “a disease.” The media urgently needs to abandon its caricature of sexual orientation change efforts—and the U.S. needs more judges with the wisdom and courage of Judge de Carvalho.
First published at FRC Blog
Top 6 on BarbWire.com
We have no tolerance for comments containing violence, racism, vulgarity, profanity, all caps, or discourteous behavior. Thank you for partnering with us to maintain a courteous and useful public environment where we can engage in reasonable discourse.