I’ve got some particularly cool news today!
The federal New Democratic Party, Canada’s official opposition, unanimously adopted a resolution over the weekend to revoke the charitable status of unscientific “ex-gay” organisations, including Exodus Global Alliance.
The resolution, which was presented and adopted the NDP’s 2011 policy convention in Vancouver, should be welcome news to anyone, but it’ll be music to the ears of most Slap readers. The resolution’s introductory speech, prepared and delivered by Matthew McLaughlin, the party’s outgoing LGBT co-chair, explains it nicely.
Delegates, an investigation published in September 2010 by [the] LGBT news blog Slap Upside The Head revealed that Exodus Global Alliance, an ex-gay organisation, enjoys registered charity status with the Canada Revenue Agency. Ex-gay organisations claim that gay, lesbian, and bisexual people can be made straight. They take advantage of LGB people, often in vulnerable family situations or at grips with depression and self-hatred, and browbeat them—saying that LGB people never live happy lives, that we are unhealthy and unwhole, and that we never experience love and that the only hope lies in their therapies. [...] We see that they are selling snake oil with benefits given to them by the Canada Revenue Agency at present.
Indeed, a plea to take action against Canada’s phony ex-gay charities has been a recurring theme on this site ever since I heard about New Zealand’s rejection of Exodus’ charitable status; I discovered that not only had Canada granted it, but that Exodus has been enjoying registered charity status in this country for years.
Ex-gay organisations, like Exodus, abuse already troubled gay people, often for political means, telling them that being gay is inherently dangerous and can be “overcome,” like addiction. The idea that sexual orientation is changeable, however, is rejected completely by every professional medical, psychological, and psychiatric organisation without dissent. This includes the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Medical Association, and many more. In fact, they’ve all gone on record to state that ex-gay therapy—attempts to change sexual orientation from gay to straight—is psychologically harmful and should never be practiced. This well-studied conclusion, based on mountains of evidence, is also supported by simple common sense. Ex-gay organisations simply teach gay people that their inherent traits are evil, scolding their “patients” for not being able to overcome it, resulting in serious psychological harm that often leads to depression or worse. Organisations that ex-gay advocates trot out as dissenting opinion are usually religiously-funded organisations with either explicit or guarded political ties.
Luckily, people have caught on to this important issue. hundreds of letters have been sent to the Canada Revenue Agency, emails have been delivered to MPs across the country, and a petition has been launched to help add a visible metric to this important issue—all in hopes that things would change.
And the NDP has heard us—in a big way.
Applause broke out during Matthew McLaughlin’s speech when he mentioned that New Zealand had rejected Exodus’ charitable status; the NDP’s new LGBT deputy critic and sitting MP, Dany Morin, stood and urged all delegates for their support; finally, Kaitlin Burnett, a member of the party’s LGBT caucus, spoke passionately in favour of the resolution, which passed unanimously to great applause. Everyone who worked hard to bring this resolution forward within the party deserves a great deal of thanks.
But we’re not done yet!
If the CRA doesn’t adhere to their own policies and pull Exodus’ charitable status immediately (and there hasn’t been any word that this is happening), legislation will need to be introduced. The NDP is clearly willing to make this happen, but they need to hear from you. Let them—and all other MPs that would have to vote on possible legislation—know that this is a priority for you. If you haven’t already signed the petition, or written a letter to the CRA and your MP, please do! It’s more important than ever right now.
Something’s definitely happening here, thanks to all of you. Let’s keep it up!