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Medical experts say Texas GOP's 'reparative therapy' for gays doesn't work

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(KYTX) -
Delegates at the Texas GOP Convention over the weekend voted to add approval for "reparative therapy" to the party's official platform. Reparative therapy refers to a range of therapeutic and prayer-based programs attempting to turn gay people straight.

However, medical evidence doesn't seem to support the idea that you can change someone's sexual orientation.

On the convention floor, some younger delegates were strongly opposed to republicans publicly supporting attempts to turn gay people straight.

"My brother's gay and I believe gay people should have the same rights and privileges as any heterosexual individual," 18-year-old delegate Colton Keathley. "He actually went to some of those 'pray away the gay' type conferences and it wasn't a good experience for him."

"It doesn't work," Tyler Licensed Professional Counselor Dr. Wade French said. "It doesn't work. It's not a mental illness and therefore it's not treatable."'

French said homosexuality was removed from the list of psychological diagnoses in 1980. He sa the medical evidence is clear: being gay is no more of a choice than being straight.

"Who in their right mind would choose this?" French said. "It's like saying 'given a choice between rich and poor, would you choose poor?"

But there are pastors who say the power of prayer can do anything.

"I have talked to people who have undergone therapy like this and they have said that as Christians it has helped them to manage their temptations," Dr. Robert Jeffress said.

French said he's seen people make the effort, but he's never seen success.

"Eventually the person realizes this is not changeable," he said. "[They] do not have the kinds of feelings toward the opposite sex that you need to have in order to maintain a healthy relationship."

Reparative therapy has received a very different reception in some other states. Just a few months ago New Jersey banned the practice for anyone under 18. Lawmakers there said there have been too many cases of depression and even suicide associated with it.

The party's decision to add reparative therapy to its platform has no direct effect on laws. But the opinions involved in that part of the platform may influence republican lawmakers in the future.

Local republican leaders did not respond to a request for comment.
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