NARTH co-founder, Joseph Nicolosi

NARTH co-founder, Joseph Nicolosi

A campaign has been launched to stop the Marriott Hotels chain from hosting a ‘gay cure’ conference in America in a week’s time.

The National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) conference is set to take place at the Phoenix Marriott Airport Hotel in Arizona on the 8th and 9th of November.

Founded in 1992, NARTH offers “conversion therapy” and other regimens that claim to “change” the sexual orientation of those individuals who “experience unwanted same-sex attraction”.

The event promises “two full days of outstanding speakers, informative workshops, two luncheon banquets, clinical training, and great networking opportunities…”

Online activist group All Out had launched a petition calling on Marriott Hotels to cancel the conference at its Phoenix venue.

“If it goes ahead, ‘therapists’ will come together to plan how they can suck thousands more people into gay ‘cure’ treatments that can lead to depression and suicide,” said All Out.

“But if thousands of us sign the petition, we can show Marriott the financial risk of getting an anti-gay reputation is huge – much greater than the value of one conference booking. They could kick out the conference, in a huge blow to the gay ‘cures’ industry.”

While NARTH claims to respect the rights of gays and lesbians who “choose” to be gay, NARTH co-founder, Joseph Nicolosi, has a long history of anti-gay rhetoric.

He’s suggested that “gay activists” are attempting to normalise paedophilia and reportedly said that gays want to infect the population with AIDS. Nicolosi also has been accused of distorting other researchers’ work to advance his discredited theories.

In 2010, one of NARTH’s leaders, psychologist George Rekers, was caught with a male escort by a reporter at the Miami International Airport.

Earlier this year, America’s Human Rights Campaign said that “NARTH’s work throughout the years has amounted to child abuse in every sense of the word”.

Major medical and mental health organisations around the world have denounced efforts to change sexual orientation or gender expression as ineffective and harmful.

The South African Society of Psychiatrists says that it “opposes any psychiatric treatment such as ‘reparative’ or ‘conversion’ therapy designed to change a person’s sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual”.

It has also warned that this kind of therapy “runs the risk of harming patients by causing depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behaviour”.

In June, another leading ‘gay cure’ group, Exodus International, shut its doors after almost four decades and apologised for the harm that it had done.

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