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Robert Spitzer apologises to the gay community for ‘ex-gay’ study

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  1. “I believe I owe the gay community an apology” is not an apology in itself.

    “I also apologize to any gay person who wasted time and energy undergoing some form of reparative therapy ”

    Is this man really so ignorant about the psychological damage caused by reparative therapy? It goes far beyond time and energy.

    This is a half-hearted apology.

  2. An old man has a revelation over the amount of damage he has done, the amount of people he has injured, the amount of families he has been complicit in ripping apart, and now he wants absolution?

    How about – No.

  3. It is good that he accepts his fault and it can be an example for those ignorant who still think they can change sexual orientation, however the amount of damage he caused to people, and the fact that he took advantage of their trust should not be underestimated. It can be a good step but certainly not enough. the least he can do is compensate what he has done by showing his support to gay community and stand against those who are still want to change other’s sexual orientation

  4. It’s never enough, is it? Do you not realise that by retracting these claims he’s also removing any credence from studies based on his claims? The fact that he hasn’t iced a cake saying ‘Sorry!’ is irrelevant here – scientifically he’s pulled the rug from a number of important studies. Credit where credit’s due – he always viewed the study as science, and his apology takes the same scientific form.

    1. I’m with James here. Retracting this study is pretty big news, especially surrounding the ‘ex-gay’ bus advert people.

      The knock-on effects of this are going majorly in our favour, and that’s what we need to focus on right now.

    2. Bad science has real human consequences. The people who were abused as a result of this man’s false claims will not recover that easily.

      There was very little science involved in his study. It was based on sheer unabated prejudice and was never taken seriously by scientists. This was always quack science. Unfortunately people will believe these things if it is presented as ‘science.’

      The only people that quoted it seriously, were the homophobic, pray away the gay cults.

      His retraction will not change anything it will simply be ignored by the religious zealots. The damage is done. The anti gay abusers will continue trying to ply their trade. Throw enough mud and some will stick.

      1. What do you want him to do? He doesn’t have a time machine.

        1. He could actually apologise.
          As a psychiatrist he should know the subtle differences in language.

          In the interview he is still claiming that gays can change, even if it is a very small percentage.

          the American Psychoanalytic Association said

          “This issue deserves coverage in the news as long as individuals and the “ex-gay movement” use faulty science and bias to advance their agenda. APsaA states in its 1999 position statement on reparative therapy that efforts to “convert” or “repair” an individual’s sexual orientation are against the fundamental principles of psychoanalytic treatment and often result in substantial psychological pain by reinforcing damaging internalized homophobic attitudes. We emphasize that anti-homosexual bias, just like any other societal prejudice, negatively affects mental health and contributes to feelings of stigma and low self-worth. Reparative therapy is nothing more than quackery fueled by bias.”

        2. Personally, I hope that he dies knowing that his name is tainted and almost certainly has blood on it and he won’t be forgotten for the horrible act that he helped establish and grant legitimacy and credibility.

          But then I don’t do forgiveness and I known that turning the other cheek just makes you a schmuck.

          1. You are presumably aware that he was pivotal in the decision to decriminalise homosexuality. He did the gay cure study out of scientific curiosity (and I think more people should do so – if only to disprove the nonsense) and has retracted it as flawed. Might want to think about picking your targets better.

    3. It’s really important to promote his apology and the ex-gay bus farago makes a good time to do it should these anti-gay evangelicals take Boris to court.
      I believe he has for some time tried to retract his study from certain “journals” but they would not have any of it, his study is too valuable to the ex-gay movement.
      No doubt NARTH and similar organisations already do and will continue to use any studies they can misrepresent and distort to suit their purposes.

  5. Gene in L.A. 26 Apr 2012, 11:39pm

    There are some people for whom no apology will ever suffice. Spitzer should ignore them as the rest of us do.

    1. “I believe I owe the gay community an apology”

      Is not an apology.

  6. Michael Inkpin-Leissner 26 Apr 2012, 11:42pm

    To be honest, a late confession of a mistake. But I do believe it is honest and that person learned the hard way. We are fighting against all these studies and when somebody confesses he was wrong, than you still stab him. What do you want, gay community? Eternal gay drama or results?
    I am glad that this scientist stepped forward to admit his mistake. He did not need to. I am pleased and see this as a little step to a better future for us. Bitterness on the gay side of society achieves nothing!

    1. Robert in S. Kensington 27 Apr 2012, 12:18am

      Absolutely agree with that! Never look a gift-horse in the mouth as the saying goes. Be thankful for small mercies I say.

  7. Robert in S. Kensington 27 Apr 2012, 12:17am

    This is huge and of significance! Sort of justifies Boris Johnson’s banning that ‘christian’ hate group ad from London buses doesn’t it? How sweet revenge is! The tables have finally been turned on them. Thank you, Dr. Spitzer for admitting you were wrong. That’s enough for me.

  8. Robert Spitzer committed a crime by writting false information about LGBT people that the anti gay Christians and psychiatrist hooked onto and used it against LGBT children and adults and as a result they are harming, destroying and killing countless LGBT children and adults around the world. Robert Spitzer needs to be arrested and brought up on charges of murder.

    1. Don’t be silly, he reported what a selected sample of patients told him, he had no reason at the time to suspect they would be giving him false information about themselves. However immediately the study was published legitimate science saw the flaws in the methodology and pointed this out, Spitzer has now come round to their point of view and I think he now realises he himself had been duped and his results misused by the hucksters at NARTH and other similar outfits.

  9. Robert Spitzer has had a personal journey; nothing more and certainly nothing less.

    I am so relieved to hear that he has discredited his former thesis, acknowledged that people have been harmed, and is now ready to support us.

  10. I wonder if highly motivated straight people could turn gay. Hmm..

    1. O yes…at least for few minutes after a pint to much.

  11. These things happen all the time in science, I couldn’t even count the amount of time I have read a review that has mentioned discrepencies in the data, especially in terms of indirect measures. This needs an apology only due to the political nature behind it. That said it does seem odd that there is no control and I may look up the original paper out of interest of why he chose to carry out the study the way he did.

    I also would not like to discourage other people from doing similar studies. Religious people will (for a good while atleast) try to change people. If that is going to happen I would rather it be under the scrutiny of scientific analysis as well as an ethics board.

    1. Dr Robin Guthrie 27 Apr 2012, 9:29am

      Religion does not DO ethics.

      1. I just noticed what I wrote, I kind of worded that badly. I meant to say that with scientific studies they will then have scientific criticisms and have to report to an ethics board, both of which religious “convertors” don’t do.

        I am however not saying that the religious don’t have ethics, more that when scientific studies are carried out there are alot of official safety measures behind it.

  12. As an aside… this is in a letter to Kenneth Zucker? As in, the Kenneth Zucker who insists on “reparative therapy” for trans kids? Irony ahoy.

  13. And so he should!

  14. Guglielmo Marinaro 27 Apr 2012, 10:57am

    Matt says that “The anti gay abusers will continue trying to ply their trade.” Yes, I’m afraid they will, and they would have still have been doing so during the past decade even if Spitzer had never published his study. They merely used it to give an added spurious legitimacy to their abusive programs. The damage already done cannot be undone, but at least Spitzer’s repudiation of his former conclusion – which even then was far more modest than the “ex-gay” hucksters represented it as being – has, in the words of Wayne Besen, “kicked out the final leg from the stool on which the proponents of ‘ex-gay’ therapy based their already shaky claims of success.” For that we should be thankful.

  15. jamestoronto 27 Apr 2012, 11:32am

    Point A – He has apologised, albeit weakly. (+1)
    Point B – He was very active in the the movement to remove homosexuality from the “sick list” of psychiatry.(+2)
    Point C – He has renounced his previous works and findings completely. (+2)
    Point D – He has said he will acively and strongly advocate AGAINST the use of his former false theory. (-2)
    Point E – He has demanded — with the threat of court injunction — that his previous false theory NOT be used. (-2)

    The doctor is slightly ahead in my rating. But just MY rating — please do no attack me. As one who went through a horrific ’60s version of this so-called therapy —although a very short session — I can say he is coming out a bit ahead.

    Now, he needs to ACTIVELY & PUBLICLY do a complete renunciation.

    But in the end run the doctor is to be praised for renouncing his false theory — so few do.

    1. Robert in S. Kensington 27 Apr 2012, 12:36pm

      I second that, james.

    2. good one, James

  16. It is the mark of a good scientist to admit the flaws in his/her work, but a stronger apology is needed to all the people damaged by homophobic fruitcakes citing these ‘studies’ as authoritative.
    The whole thing was a blatant joke in bad taste from the beginning – like asking a six-day Creationist to interpret the meaning of a set of fossils and taking the answer seriously. And always the crucial question is dodged – why actually SHOULD we change? Apart from just to pander to homophobic cultures and religions?

  17. Robert in S. Kensington 27 Apr 2012, 12:38pm

    The Christian Institute will be having a hissy fit about this. Oh how I’m gloating.

    1. Guglielmo Marinaro 27 Apr 2012, 1:04pm

      No doubt they will, but behind closed doors: we won’t hear it going on. I bet you any money that the “Christian” Institute, which hailed Spitzer’s defective study with sharp, shrill, shrewish shrieks of delight when it first appeared, and even then misrepresented it as claiming far more than it did, will keep as quiet as mice in public about Spitzer’s retractation of his original conclusion. Ditto for Anglican “Mainstream” and other crackpot fundamentalist anti-gay/”ex-gay” organizations.

  18. I believe in forgiveness and not keeping grudges, and I believe we should accept his apology if it is sincere.

  19. James Else 18 May 2012, 5:19pm

    if there is to be any discourse or research on homosexuality being a choice and that this choice can be changed to heterosexuality, then it is necessary to apply the same principles to change heterosexuals into becoming homosexual.

    I remain amazed at the political/religious energy that is invested into an irrelevant issue such as sexuality. The issue of gay sexuality is simply a red herring to divert attention from more pressing socio-political issues that threaten people at a most profound level.

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