Leading outreach groups in the homosexual conversion therapy movement called on the American Psychological Association (APA) this month to recognise those who are battling unwanted same-sex attraction.

Exodus International, the largest outreach to gay people in conflict with their own homosexuality, asked the APA to continue dialogue regarding the phenomenon of unwanted homosexual attraction at an APA Annual Convention held in New Orleans.

According to a media release issued by the National Centre for Research and Treatment of Homosexuality (NARTH), APA president Gerald Koocher, fielding questions at the convention regarding unwanted homosexual attraction, affirmed a patient’s right to seek help.

“APA has no conflict with psychologists who help those distressed by unwanted homosexual attraction,” Mr Koocher said, according to NARTH’s account. “The choice to enter therapy to diminish homosexual attractions and to strengthen heterosexual potential must be respected.”

More than 50 “former” homosexuals protested outside the APA convention, holding signs that read, “Change is Possible,” “APA, We Need Your Support” and “Diversity Includes Us.”

“This recognition of an individual’s autonomy and right to self-determination is a positive step for the APA,” said Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International.

Following the protest, however, the APA issued a statement expressing concerns that homosexual conversion groups’ positions “create an environment in which prejudice and discrimination can flourish.”

“For over three decades the consensus of the mental health community has been that homosexuality is not an illness and therefore not in need of a cure,” APA’s statement read.

“The APA’s concern about the positions espoused by NARTH and so-called conversion therapy is that they are not supported by the science. There is simply no sufficient scientifically sound evidence that sexual orientation can be changed.”

In recent years, the APA has spoken out about many political topics such as abortion and gay marriage. But Exodus says the association has previously resisted discussion with members who help patients desiring change in homosexuality.

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