There is now growing general support for the belief that sexuality is pre-determined, though may change over time. However, many people are interested in whether sexuality can be altered solely by a person's desire to change. Organisations that help homosexuals attempt to change their sexuality can be generally divided between those that use psychological 'reparative' methods and those that use religious 'healing' methods.
Some people believe homosexuality is an illness and believe it can and should be cured. Many of these 'cures' revolve around psychological therapies (often called reparative therapy) which endeavour to re-orient a homosexual sexuality to heterosexual. Although there is little scientific data to evaluate, what is available seems to indicate that reparative therapy is ineffective.14 The American Psychological Association (APA), the world's largest association of psychologists has stated that:
“Homosexuality is not a mental disorder and the APA opposes all portrayals of lesbian, gay and bisexual people as mentally ill and in need of treatment due to their sexual orientation.”
Some strongly religious groups believe that homosexuality is sinful and is in direct breach of the bible and other religious texts. As with reparative therapy there has been little to no scientific evaluation of the healing and prayer techniques used. What evidence is available suggests that the success of these techniques is restricted to three areas:
* Convincing bisexuals to limit their sexual activities to members of the opposite sex.
* Convincing homosexuals to become celibate.
* Convincing gay men and lesbians to attempt to maintain heterosexual relationships, whilst retaining their homosexual orientation.
Tellingly, two founders of a ministry established to 'heal' homosexuals later described their programme as 'ineffective ... not one person was healed'.
The subject of 'curing' homosexuality became a politically charged debate in America, with Christian political organisations promoting the theory that homosexuality can be changed through force of will alone. They claim that 'thousands are leaving their homosexual identity for sexual celibacy, and even marriage'.
Alternatively, gay and lesbian rights organisations would argue that these views misunderstand what it means to be gay, and amount to discrimination against gay and lesbian people. Furthermore, the American Psychological Association has carried out a systematic review, which not only concludes that psychological interventions are not effective at changing sexual orientation, but they can also cause significant harm.