The application came from Exodus Ministries Trust Board, a group affiliated with the US-based Exodus Global Alliance which also claims to be able to give people "freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ."
The Trust Board's charitable status application describes its aims, among others, as:
Group's Claim to Counsel Homosexuals Fails to Convince
The Charity Commission's analysis first looked at whether the Exodus group's claim that they provided relief to persons afflicted by physical/mental illness or disability, in this case homosexuality, fulfilled the necessary criteria to grant charitable status.
The Charity Commission found Exodus' claim problematic, writing in its 15-page decision:
- that counseling should be carried out in a neutral environment which the Commission doubted whether the Exodus group was capable of providing, and:
- that homosexuality is not a mental disorder, therein highlighting the majority of medical opinion that soundly rejects “the a priori assumption that the patient should change his/her homosexual orientation”.
The Commission also considered whether the application could qualify under merit of the group's educational value. In its application, Exodus had offered that as a group it aimed to "teach and present the view that a homosexual can change from homosexuality to heterosexuality and that he or she is not born homosexual."
Again, the Commission found the group's lack of objectivity a considerable problem, going as far to say that the Commission was concerned that the Exodus group's presented aims amounted to "'propaganda or cause under the guise of education' which is not charitable under the advancement of education."
Commission Questions Group's Public Benefit
While also rejecting the group's application under "advancement of religion", saying that the Applicant's purposes were too broad to be solely viewed in such a context, the Charity Commission next dealt with the public benefit of the Exodus affiliate.
In so doing, the Commission reinforced earlier assertions that same-sex attraction was no longer classed as a mental disorder, that a majority of current scientific data suggests that sexual orientation can not be changed, and that so-called conversion therapies are unproven, ill-supported and have been known to be potentially damaging to the patients involved.
The Exodus Ministries Trust Board contended that it does not advocate conversion therapy but rather counseling based on religious teaching designed to allow people to choose heterosexuality, and warned that the two should not be confused.
While the Commission made note of the distinction, it appeared to conclude that the aims of both were not dissimilar and that, regardless, the group had failed to meet the other necessary standards.
As such, and while citing N.Z. legal protections on the basis of sexual orientation and its civil unions law, the Commission concluded:
However, the Commission rejected such a notion, saying that each case is considered on its individual merits and that one group's successful application sets no precedent. One also notes that while Rainbow Youth reportedly seeks to improve the self-esteem of LGBT and questioning youth, it does not actively seek to change them with its "preconceived point of view" but rather affirms their sexual orientation or gender identity - whatever that may be - a marked difference from the self-defined goals of the Exodus group.
All that in mind, the Commission concluded its analysis, saying that the group's application fails to prove that Exodus has "substantially charitable purposes" to merit charitable status and thus the Commission is forced to deny the application.
This news is likely to be welcomed by those who oppose all forms of so-called reparative therapy and groups that claim it is possible to change one's sexual orientation through prayer.
APA Adopts Resolution Against Gay Cure Therapy
Of note to readers may be the fact that, in August of last year, the American Psychological Association officially adopted a resolution against conversion therapy and sexual orientation "change efforts" after carrying out a rigorous examination of 83 conversion therapy studies from peer-reviewed journals dated between 1960 to 2007.
The panel found that only a handful of the studies, few of which were carried out in the last decade, could be considered methodologically sound, and that none had "systematically evaluated [the] potential harms" of conversion therapy.
As such, the APA drew up the "Resolution on Appropriate Affirmative Responses to Sexual Orientation Distress and Change Effects" in which it warns that therapists must not misrepresent the success rate of such therapy, which remains negligible, or gloss over the potential harms of conversion attempts. The resolution therein recommends that conversion therapy should be rejected as a viable course of treatment. Read more about the APA's 2009 resolution here.
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