Is A National Ban on Gay Conversion Therapy On Its Way?

Mathew Shurka developed feelings for a friend of the same-sex as a teenager. His father sought to change his sexuality through the controversial conversion therapy. Now, Shurka is one of the many advocates leading the movement to ban the practice throughout the United States.

[DIGEST: Yahoo, LiveScience, HuffingtonPost, Salon]

Mathew Shurka, Survivor of Gay Conversion Therapy, Becomes Leading Advocate for Federal Ban Movement

When Mathew Shurka was 16 years old, he found himself attracted to another boy. Confused and frightened by his feelings, he confided in his father. Initially supportive, Efraim Shurka feared his son’s homosexuality would hinder Mathew’s future success and happiness and sought a way to “fix” his son. He believed he’d found his answer in conversion therapy.

Mathew Shurka poses for a portrait on in Brooklyn New York on Monday June 24, 2013. (Damon Dahlen, Huffington Post)

As reported by Yahoo and the Huffington Post, Shurka’s family spent $35,000 and the next five years following his conversion therapist’s orders; he cut ties with his mother and sister, was given Viagra by his father to have sex with women, and futilely searched through his memories for some nonexistent childhood trauma that would “explain” his homosexuality. For years, Shurka lived what he called a double life. He felt depressed and anxious, almost failed high school, and had mounting self-doubt and self-blame fueled by his conversion therapist.

Shurka is not alone. He, along with many survivors of controversial practice, now lead the movement to ban conversion therapy in the United States. Shurka told the Huffington Post that, even years later, he is still recovering from the psychological damages of conversion therapy, and hopes that other survivors will also speak out against it so that LGBT minors do not endure the same experiences he did.

The Discredited Science and Tragedy Behind Gay Conversion Therapy

A 2012 review conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA) showed that not only do people rarely switch sexual orientation after years of conversion therapy but the practice itself shows no empirical benefits. Furthermore, a recent report 

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