Author of controversial ‘ex-gay’ study: ‘I apologize’ to LGBT community

By David Ferguson
Wednesday, May 30, 2012 15:19 EDT
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Dr Robert Spitzer via YouTube.com
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Earlier this month, psychiatrist Dr. Robert Spitzer fully recanted a controversial 2003 non-peer reviewed study that he published in the journal The Archives of Sexual Behavior, a study in which he posited that “highly motivated” LGBT people could reach their so-called “heterosexual potential” through counseling and prayer.

In a piece in The American Prospect by Gabriel Arana and a letter to the journal that originally published the study, has said that he no longer stands by the results of the study and that he regrets any harm that may have come to LGBT people as a result of his mistaken belief in the efficacy of so-called “reparative therapy.”

“I believe,” he wrote, “that I owe the gay community an apology.”

Spitzer’s choice to publish the 2003 study was surprising given that in 1973, Spitzer was among the group of doctors who led the charge to have homosexuality removed as a disorder from the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.  Prior to that point, the manual had classified homosexuality as “sociopathic personality disturbance.”

In an interview with Truth Wins Out writer Waybe Bessen and filmmaker Lisa Darden, Spitzer discusses his change of heart and the “interesting position” that anti-gay organizations may find themselves in now that the study they rely on has been debunked by its author.  When asked if he believes that these groups are capable of unbiased study of their own, he replied, “The people who are pushing the ‘ex-gay’ idea are so full of hatred for homosexuality, really, that I don’t think they can respond in an ethical way.”

Spitzer, now in his 80s, felt that he had a responsibility to open up about his doubts about the study.  ”I was quite wrong in the conclusions that I made from this study. The study does not provide evidence, really, that gays can change. And that’s quite an admission on my part.”

“I’ve been thinking about the study for many years,” he said, “I felt that I needed to say that, the study is not valid, but I thought I should also say to the gay community, I apologize for any harm I have done to them because of the study and my initial interpretation.”

Watch the interview, embedded via YouTube, below:

David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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