The American Psychological Association is to review its polity on counselling for gay and lesbian people, and activists are hopeful they will denounce the “ex-gay” movement that claims it can ‘cure’ homosexuality.

A six-member panel will meet next week to begin the review process.

Leading religious groups in America have already begun lobbying the APA to reverse a 1997 decision that gay people should not be treated as mentally ill.

Focus on the Family, a gay-hostile group, has already accused the APA of being in the pockets of the ‘gay lobby.’

“We believe that psychologists should assist clients to develop lives that they value, even if that means they decline to identify as homosexual,” ‘conversion therapy’ advocates, including Focus on the Family, said in a letter to the APA.

However, Clinton Anderson, director of the APA’s Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Concerns Office, told AP that the panel would only consider scientific evidence about the efficacy of gay conversion therapies.

“We cannot take into account what are fundamentally negative religious perceptions of homosexuality. They don’t fit into our world view,” he said.

Gay rights groups like Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) have been consulted by the APA.

PFLAG said that ‘ex-gay’ therapies are particularly harmful to younger LGB people, causing depression and suicide.

The six-member APA panel will produce a preliminary report by December.