VIRGINIA: National LGBT Groups To File Federal Fraud Complaint Against Ex-Gay Torture Group

Today the Human Rights Campaign, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights will file a joint federal fraud complaint against a Virgina-based ex-gay torture group. Chris Johnson reports at the Washington Blade:

The 38-page complaint, obtained in advance by the Blade, is set to be filed before the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and accuses “People Can Change” — an organization that offers therapy services “to support and guide men who seek to transition away from unwanted homosexuality” — of engaging in fraud.

According to the complaint, “People Can Change” offers the services “based on the false premise” that being gay is a mental illness cause by a developmental disorder — an assertion debunked by major psychological and medical groups, which have rejected “conversion therapy.”

“There is substantial competent and reliable scientific evidence that conversion therapy, including the methods employed by PCC, is ineffective and can and often does result in significant health and safety risks to consumers of those services, as well as economic losses – exactly the types of injuries that are at the heart of the FTC’s mission to protect consumers from harm,” the complaint says.

The complaint asks the Federal Trade Commission to stop “People Can Change” from advertising, marketing and all forms of business and calls on the agency to investigate other practitioners making similar claims.

RELATED: Among the programs offered by People Can Change is their much-ridiculed “Journey Into Manhood” retreats. In 2010 a straight reporter went undercover to one of these events. An excerpt of his account is below.

At one point, the staff members all sang out in unison, their voices filling the high walls of the camp lodge. Somewhere in the room, a man sobbed over the sound of the music. It was the first night of “Journey into Manhood,” a 48-hour weekend retreat designed to help gay men become straight. In that room, about fifty men — some thirty “Journeyers” and fifteen staff members — sat on the carpeted floor of a ranch lodge two hours outside of Phoenix, Arizona. Most of the men, except for a few of the staff members, struggled to overcome their attraction to other men. Sometime during all that holding and touching and singing, while I was cradled in the Motorcycle position, I felt it: the unmistakable bulge pressing through his tight jeans. It was the first time in my life I had a felt another man’s erection.