Chelsea Clinton has said that gay ‘cure’ therapy should be “illegal everywhere,” after a continued backlash against Facebook over ads promoting the discredited practice.
Clinton was responding after news, first broken by PinkNews in February 2017, that a gay ‘cure’ group had taken out adverts on the social media giant targeting vulnerable LGBT+ people.
Facebook told PinkNews it would act on the issue at the time, but further investigations in January 2018 found that the same group was still serving videos aimed at promoting conversion therapy to LGBT+ users via the platform.
The story resurfaced in the Telegraph last week.
Responding to the news, Chelsea Clinton tweeted: “Child abuse. ‘Conversion therapy’ is child abuse. There are not two sides to this question and these ads – and the practices they promote – should be illegal everywhere. Full stop.”
Gay ‘cure’ therapy is currently only banned in 16 US states, and bills tackling the practice elsewhere have faced opposition from hardline Republicans. The Governor of Maine vetoed a bill to ban the practice in July.
Efforts in Congress to introduce a federal law, spearheaded by Democratic Senators Patty Murray and Cory Booker, have gained little traction.
The ads were produced by Anchored North, a US-based evangelical group who are extremely open about their use of “next-generation evangelism” on social media to target “sinners”, who they say are in the grasp of “evil”.
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In addition to the ads targeted at gay people, the group’s videos take aim at women considering abortion and atheists.
A spokesperson said: “We’re missionaries and evangelists using the tools of our time to reach people with the gospel.”
Explaining the decline of church attendance, they added: “If they’re not going to be in churches, we have to reach them where they’re at, and where they’re at is on the internet, consuming media. They’re being lied to left and right and they’re being torn apart by darkness, by sin, by evil.
“The internet gives us the ability to throw the seeds of God’s word out like wildfire.”
A statement from Facebook said: “We have rejected these ads and they are no longer running on Facebook.”
A spokesperson continued: “We do not allow ads that promote gay conversion therapy or that imply personal attributes about people, like their sexual orientation.”
“We quickly removed these ads after further review. While enforcement is never perfect, we’re always working to find and remove ads that violate our policies.”