An American church is promising gay men they will be cured of their homosexuality if they stroke horses.
The Cowboy Church of Virginia, led by chief pastor Raymond Bell, believes homosexuality and other ‘addictions’ can be cured by Equine Assisted Psychotherapy.
Horse therapy, in the right hands, can be used to help overcome fears, develop communication skills, and is generally beneficial to mental health.
But Bell says the horses in his church, a cowboy ranch in the south, are part of teaching men to stop being gay and encourage them to be more masculine.
‘EAP can help any person who is living the homosexual lifestyle or involved in it in anyway,’ he told Gay Star News.
‘The first common misconception is that homosexuality is genetic, or hereditary, or as some say “born this way”.
‘Homosexuality is actually a type of addiction. It is not “curable” as a disease because it is a “choice driven” by the person.’
Bell said he uses EAP to identify how a person got ‘involved’ in homosexuality to begin with. For example, because of rape, abandonment, lacking a male role model, abuse, and having low self-esteem.
He said: ‘Homosexuality is a secondary effect from a single, or multiple, primary events in a person’s life.’
When asked if the therapy ever worked, or if it was even valid, the pastor said ‘it is not now, nor has it ever been, in question’.
In September, California became the first US state to ban ‘gay cure’ therapy for minors.
The ban stops psychiatrists and churches from performing reparative therapy, which the World Health Organization calls ‘dangerous and abusive’.
In April 2012, the father of gay cure therapy Bob Spitzer said he now wants to retract his 2001 study which proclaimed gay and lesbian people could change their sexual orientation.
He said: 'I believe I owe the gay community an apology for my study making unproven claims of the efficacy of reparative therapy.
'I also apologize to any gay person who wasted time and energy undergoing some form of reparative therapy because they believed that I had proven that reparative therapy works with some “highly motivated” individuals.'
The American Psychological Association went on the record in 1975 stating homosexuality is not an illness and views ‘gay cure’ practices as ‘inappropriate, unethical and inhumane.’