The Superior Court of the District of Columbia in the US has ruled that “former” homosexuals, or “ex-gays”, must be recognised under sexual orientation non-discrimination laws. The Court said that under the D.C. Human Rights Act sexual orientation does not require “immutable characteristics”.

The case was first brought to light in 2002, when Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays (PFOX) applied for an exhibit booth at the National Education Association’s annual convention, Expo 2002, and were denied due to limited space.

However, PFOX suspected that they were in fact being discriminated against. As a result, it filed a discrimination claim with the D.C. Office of in 2005, which then led to the D.C. Superior Court case.

In its ruling the court affirmed the NEA’s right to deny PFOX’s application for a booth at its exhibition saying that: “PFOX’s arguments miss the point. The NEA did not reject its application because PFOX’s members include exgays, homosexuals, heterosexuals, or members of any other sexual orientation. Rather, NEA rejected PFOX’s application because PFOX’s message and policies were, in NEA’s opinion, contrary to NEA’s policies regarding sexual orientation.”

However the court also ruled that ex-gays are a protected class under the term ‘sexual orientation,’ a statement that has been widely trumpeted by PFOX despite it having actually lost the case.

“By failing to protect former homosexuals, the sexual orientation laws gave more rights to homosexuals than heterosexuals who were once gay,” said Regina Griggs, executive director of PFOX.

“All sexual orientation laws and programs nationwide should now provide true diversity and equality by including former homosexuals,” said Greg Quinlan, a director of PFOX. “I have experienced more personal assaults as a former homosexual than I ever did as a gay man.”

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