Gays can straighten out: group
By Laura Katsirdakis
When Focus on the Family decided to have an "ex-gay" conference
in Toronto two weeks ago, they may not have expected to have
protesters rallying outside the event.
The conference was entitled "Love Won Out" and promoted the
idea homosexual men and women can switch back to being heterosexual,
said Mike Haley, manager of the gender issues department at
Focus on the Family, which is based in Colorado.
"The goal of the conference is to educate the Christian community
in regards to homosexuality and to clarify what is truth and
what is myth," Haley explained. "The belief that 10 per cent
of the population is genetically homosexual is completely inaccurate."
The conference in Toronto sold out, Haley said. "We don't
go into gay bars and solicit people; [the conference] is optional."
Haley noted he was homosexual for over 10 years before switching
back. Citing a lack of a bond between himself and his father
as a child, Haley said he switched when he realized homosexuality
was not genetically determined. "The option [of switching back]
should be available, but the gay community does not want this
message out there," he said.
Paul Bowser organized the rally of lesbian, gay, bisexual
and transgendered students of the University of Toronto. "It
wasn't really a protest, we intended to hold a rally to make
people aware of what was going on in there," he said.
"Focus on the Family is using the 'ex-gay' idea to deny gay
rights," Bowser said. "The ex-gay movement is damaging - people
who are growing up with these ideas go through their lives
being told that they should suppress themselves.
"[The ex-gay idea] can cause a lot of [psychological] damage;
it's not viable to change who you are," Bowser explained.
"The Americans are scared to death of [Canada's] progress
with respect to gay marriage legislation," Bowser said, regarding
the reason for Focus on the Family's expansion to Canada.
"I think it is ridiculous that groups like this still exist
in today's society," said Catherine Clune-Taylor, president
of Queer Western Organization. "It is not possible to convert
homosexuals into heterosexuals - they're trying to promote
an idea of gender or sexual plasticity, when in reality they're
just repackaging homophobia."