The New Zealand branch of an international “ex-gay” organisation which claims to offer “freedom from homosexuality” has been denied charitable status by the country’s Charitable Commission.

Exodus, who claim to be an organisation serving the needs of LGBT people as much as any other gay group, and offering services “valuable to gay people going through difficult times”, lost their bid because the New Zealand government does not believe homosexuality to be a disease requiring treatment.

The Commission gave various reasons for denying the application, stating that “the Applicant’s purposes were not exclusively charitable and the Commission was unable to determine whether the Applicant provided a public benefit.”

They also added that Exodus was not offering relief to the poor, nor care to the unwell.

The Commission also quoted the American Medical Association’s position on “curing” LGBT people: “Psycho-therapeutic modalities to convert or ‘repair’ homosexuality are based on developmental theories whose scientific validity is questionable.”

Exodus say their ethos is to: “counsel and assist homosexuals and others with sexual problems in order that they may find healing and release into wholeness as desired by God and revealed in the Bible”.

They also claim to “make information available to homosexuals . . . that they can be released from homosexuality and to teach and present the view that a homosexual can change and that he or she is not born homosexual”.

A lawyer communicating with the Charitable Commission on behalf of Exodus claim that the group “offer non-judgmental support and advice to anyone wishing to leave the homosexual lifestyle, or trying to decide whether to do so.” The letter also stated that “the activities (and purposes) of Exodus are exclusively charitable, as we understand that no one receives and pecuniary benefit of any kind from its activities which are religious, educational and beneficial to the community.”

The group, which reportedly rented their own building with a million dollar mortgage in 2008, has according to a recent article on the Ex-Gay Watch website, been suffering financially of late. They cite on their Facebook page an “unexpectedly low giving season” coupled with utilities bills as some of the reasons.

They added: “Your prayers are appreciated. For those who are also having to endure this unfriendly economy, our prayers are with you!”