VP Mike Pence and conversion therapy
It’s hard to not to associate Vice President Mike Pence and conversion therapy. The old anti-homosexual therapy is again in the news ever since Pence ran and eventually won as Donald Trump’s wingman.
Pence was been accused of promoting conversion therapy even during his 2000 congressional campaign.
But while his spokesperson, Marc Lotter, has adamantly denied this, telling the New York Times that it is “patently false” and was a misinterpretation of Pence’s statements, the current vice president is still connected by LGBT activists to conversion therapy.
Mike Pence and conversion therapy: The Ryan White Care Act
During his time as congressman, Pence sought to change the Ryan White Care Act, which requires under federal law to provide financing to those seeking HIV and AIDS treatment.
In his website, he stated that he was seeking to change the act: “Congress should support the reauthorization of the Ryan White Care Act only after completion of an audit to ensure that federal dollars were no longer being given to organizations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviors that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus.”
“Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behaviour,” his statement on his website said.
Mike Pence and conversion therapy: The 2016 Republican platform
One platform in the Republican campaign last year had this line: right of parents to determine the proper medical treatment and therapy for their minor children.
Both Lotter and incoming White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, deny these were anti-LGBT. Rather, Pence was seeking to redirect funds to organizations that promote safe sex while the platform had nothing to do with conversion therapy at all.
Rea Carey, the executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, is wary of these denials.
“That is very specific language– some might call it a dog whistle– that has been used for decades to very thinly cloak deeply homophobic beliefs,” Carey said.
“Particularly the phrase ‘seeking to change their sexual behavior,’ to me, is code for conversion therapy,” she added.
Conversion therapy or reparative therapy
But what exactly is conversion therapy, or what is sometimes called reparative therapy?
Conversion therapy has its roots way back in 1920 when Sigmund Freud attempted to change the sexual preference of a girl to heterosexual. While he found it not possible, this kind of therapy continued when parents would bring their children to psychiatrists due to their same sex preference.
A lot of these psychiatrists created various treatments to convert these patients: institutionalization, psychoanalysis estrogen treatment (which would lower the libido in gays), electroconvulsive therapy (where seizure is induced during an electric shock).
Aversion therapy was also created where patients were pre-conditioned to think of same sex feelings as a bad thing, or giving them drugs that induce nausea.
Recent types of conversion therapies are less brutal, using mostly psychoanalysis. Here, the parents are blamed for their children’s sexual preferences. Some were advised to avoid having friends with the opposite sex.
Banning conversion therapy against LGBT
Despite its name, the therapy sill causes emotional damage to patients, which led to President Barack Obama to call for the banning of conversion therapy in 2015.
This came about after a young lesbian killed herself and left a note talking about her conversion therapy.
Unfortunately, there are four more years of Pence so we’ll see how conversion therapy will play in this administration.