Conversion Therapy Ban Bill Introduced in Md.: ’Ex-Gay’ Cries Foul
Baltimore County Delegate and state attorney general hopeful Jon Cardin introduced a bill into the Maryland legislature last week that would ban the practice of gay conversion therapy for minors. The move brought sharp criticism by noted self-proclaimed ex-gay advocate Christopher Doyle, whose International Healing Foundation is located in Maryland.
If House Bill 91, introduced by Cardin on January 8, is passed into law, it would prevent licensed mental health professionals in the state from engaging in Sexual Orientation Change Effort (SOCE). The bill is similar to measures passed and signed into law in California and New Jersey.
According to the Washington Blade, the original version of the bill only includes sexual orientation but will be amended to include gender identity and expression.
"There are numerous gay conversion therapy providers as well as organizations like the infamous International Healing Foundation (IHF) located right here in Maryland advocating for what I consider very harmful conversion therapies," Cardin said in an interview with the Washington Blade. "To me it is incredibly repulsive."
If passed into law, this bill would effectively put IHF out of business in Maryland.
In a statement released to the press by Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX), Christopher Doyle, a licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and Director at IHF said:
"House Bill 91 relies exclusively on policy statements from so-called mainstream mental and medical health organizations such as the American Psychological Association (APA), who formed a Task Force in 2009 made up exclusively of gay-identified and gay-affirming psychologists. Not only did the Task Force refuse to include psychologists and licensed psychotherapists that actually worked with clients undergoing SOCE therapy and/or were former homosexuals, but all of the members of this Task Force had previously gone on the record as opposing SOCE therapy for philosophical and political reasons."
The American Psychological Association is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 151,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. In 2000, the APA passed a resolution condemning reparative or conversion therapy.
Doyle's comments aren't the first time an official from IHF has criticized the professional mental health community. According to Wikipedia , in 2002, IHF founder Richard Cohen was permanently expelled from the American Counseling Association, after it accused him of six violations of its ethics code, which bars members from actions which "seek to meet their personal needs at the expense of clients, those that exploit the trust and dependency of clients, and for soliciting testimonials or promoting products in a deceptive manner."
Cohen stated that the expulsion was for his efforts in the ex-gay movement, specifically for the book "Coming Out Straight", and for one complaint. He did not appeal, and joined others in calling the ACA "a biased organization" and "gay-affirming club".
After his expulsion, Cohen is not currently certified or licensed to be a clinician or psychotherapist
In addition to his position at IHF, Christopher Doyle is co-founder and president of Voice of the Voiceless, the ex-gay advocacy organization that produced last summer's Ex-Gay Pride Rally in Washington, D.C. that drew under ten attendees.