It was revealed this week that a Catholic association of doctors in Germany has been advertising a homeopathic "cure" for homosexuality on its website, much to the outrage of LGBT rights groups in the country.
Billed as "Therapy Options for Homosexuality" the Union of Catholic Physicians (UCP), which reportedly calls itself the Catholic voice for the medical community, says that while homosexuality is not an illness, there can be a variety of treatments to keep those "inclinations" at bay.
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Possibilities include "constitutional treatments with homeopathic tools … such as homeopathic dilutions like Platinum," "psychotherapy," and "religious counseling." Among homeopathy's controversial treatments are the prescription of "Globuli," tiny pills that consisting mostly of sugar.
"We know about a number of people with homosexual feelings who find themselves in a spiritual and psychological emergency and suffer greatly," UCP head Gero Winkelmann told SPIEGEL in a written statement. "If someone is unhappy, ill or feels they are in an emergency, they should be able to find options for help with us."
But the doctor, who runs a private practice with an emphasis on homeopathy in the Bavarian town of Unterhaching, also stressed that the UCP website had not been recently updated, "because the issue is not particularly topical at the moment."
As for the scientific basis of the treatments offered by the UCP, Winkelmann listed "medical-psychotherapeutic, philosophical and theological literature," the "minority views of psychotherapists," the "teachings of the Catholic church, the Holy Scripture," and the "homeopathy of Samuel Hahnemann," the German physician credited with creating the practice.
The overwhelming majority of the medical community rejects reparative or gay "cure" therapy, while a sizable proportion also questions the efficaciousness of homeopathy.
LGBT rights groups including the Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany have said that this supposed treatment preys on vulnerable lesbian and gay people or those questioning their sexuality, seemingly offering them a solution to their anxiety that will ultimately prove fruitless and could potentially lead to further trauma.
The Catholic association, while reiterating that this is a private opinion, says that they are offering this treatment not because of intolerance but rather as a contribution to an "age-old issue."
From The Local, Germany's News in English:
The LSVD has branded the "therapy" as unacceptable. "The offers are dangerous," spokeswoman Renate Rampf told the magazine. "They exploit the insecurities of homo- and bisexual young people and their parents."
Rampf also said the treatments would be especially destabilizing because they couldn't work. "All serious specialists in the area agree that sexual orientation is shaped in earliest childhood," she said.
Winkelmann insisted that his organization was not trying to hurt or "impose" an illness on anyone. He also clarified that his website did not present the official Catholic church view of homosexuality, but was a private opinion.
"This is not about outing or intolerance," a statement on the website reads. "It's a Christian and medical contribution to an age-old issue."
To me, this does not qualify as a medical contribution and it is intellectually dishonest for Winkelmann or his association to pretend that it is.
in August of 2009, the American Psychological Association officially adopted a resolution reaffirming its stance against conversion therapy and sexual orientation "change efforts" after carrying out a rigorous examination of 83 conversion therapy studies from peer-reviewed journals dated between 1960 to 2007.
The panel found that only a handful of the studies, few of which were carried out in the last decade, could be considered methodologically sound, and that none had "systematically evaluated [the] potential harms" of conversion therapy.
As such, the APA drew up the "Resolution on Appropriate Affirmative Responses to Sexual Orientation Distress and Change Effects" in which it warns that therapists must not misrepresent the success rate of such therapy, which remains negligible, or gloss over the potential harms of conversion attempts, which are considerable and in several instances have led to attempted suicides. The resolution therein recommends that conversion therapy should be rejected as a viable course of treatment in favor of counseling to help patients reconcile their feelings regarding sexual orientation. Read more about the APA's 2009 resolution here.
The APA did not consider homeopathic "cures" for homosexuality in the above resolution but it can be reasonably assumed it would maintain its stance against conversion therapy.