Psychiatrist admits gay people can’t be converted

Robert Spitzer has retracted his 2001 claims that gay people can be converted - he now says 'gay cures' can be harmful

Psychiatrist admits gay people can’t be converted
12 April 2012

An American psychiatrist responsible for a 2001 study which suggested lesbian, gay and bisexual people could change their orientation has admitted he was wrong.

Over the course of his career Robert Spitzer has repeatedly made waves with his research into the psychology of same-sex attraction.

On the one hand, he was responsible for the removal of homosexuality from the American Psychological Association’s list of mental disorders in 1973.

Yet, in 2001 he published a paper entitled Can Some Gay Men and Lesbians Change Their Sexual Orientation? In it he claimed that it is possible for some ‘high motivated individuals’ to change their sexuality.

The study, based on 200 participants, is often still used as evidence by ‘ex-gay’ organisations that conversions to heterosexuality are possible. It has been extensively criticized by members of the scientific community for the small number of participants and the fact that many were referred to Spitzer by ex-gay organizations.

Spitzer, 79, worked at Columbia University in New York, retiring in 2010 and now has Parkinson’s disease. He has now admitted that these criticisms are accurate.

He said: ‘In retrospect, I have to admit I think the critiques are largely correct.’

Spitzer also admitted that attempting to convert sexuality can be ‘quite harmful’ and has called for his paper to be retracted so he ‘doesn’t have to worry about it anymore’.

Wayne Besen, executive director of Truth Wins Out, a non-profit LGBT organisation, said: ‘Spitzer just kicked out the final leg from the stool on which the proponents of 'ex-gay' therapy based their already shaky claims of success.’

HAVE YOUR SAY

MORE TOP STORIES

No thumbnail available

Madonna urged to 'break wall' of bigotry during St Petersburg gig

Letter calls on queen of pop to express herself over homophobia and anti-gay laws in Russia during her MDNA tour
No thumbnail available

Italy's Berlusconi makes anti-gay jibe during campaign

Italy's candidate for Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, makes an anti-gay jibe during his campaign -saying gays 'are funny'
No thumbnail available

Brian Boitano publicly confirms he is gay prior to representing US at Olympics in Sochi

'I am proud to live in a country that encourages diversity, openness and tolerance'
No thumbnail available

Gay celebrities take to Twitter to express outrage over mass shooting of schoolchildren

Twenty students shot to death in their Connecticut classrooms
No thumbnail available

Rock musician Linda Perry and talk show host Sara Gilbert are engaged

Perry stages elaborate proposal during romantic picnic at a park
This photography company's response to losing clients due to his support of gay marriage is amazing
Sam Smith shares poem branding him 'fag' to highlight homophobia

Sam Smith shares poem branding him 'fag' to highlight homophobia

'Homophobia is still SO PRESENT in our society!!'
No thumbnail available

London mayor candidates face grilling from gay voters

Current Conservative mayor criticised for not making a single reference to the gay community in his 152 page manifesto
No thumbnail available

HRC president wants NBC to expose Russia's anti-gay law during Winter Olympics

Chad Griffin says network has 'unique opportunity and a responsibility to expose this inhumane and unjust law to millions of American viewers'
Gay man denied custody of triplets after lying to wife

Gay man denied custody of triplets after lying to wife

Judge rules he’s a ‘poor decision maker’ who lied about his sexuality and HIV status