Protest leads conversion therapist to withdraw from Austrian psychiatric conference

September 17, 2007

VIENNA — In response to a letter-writing protest campaign initiated by the Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists (AGLP), an allied organization of the American Psychiatric Association, a conversion therapist has withdrawn from speaking at a psychiatric conference in Graz, Austria.

The Austrian Society of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy (OEGPP) is a sponsor of an upcoming conference, “Religiosity in Psychiatry and Psychotherapy,” to be held this October in Graz. Markus Hoffmann, a German conversion therapist who leads an evangelical group that attempts to convert gays and lesbians into heterosexuals, had been invited to speak.

AGLP President Ubaldo Leli, MD, wrote the OEGPP in August: “Conversion therapy of gay and lesbian people is unscientific, harmful and unethical. . . By inviting these speakers to your conference, you are granting scientific legitimacy to a discredited therapy that not only continues to pathologize gay people, but is based on the erroneous assumption that homosexuality is a mental illness and that gay men and lesbians can and should change their sexual orientation.”

After receiving letters from AGLP, its members and local Austrian groups, OEGPP Vice President Dr. Christoph Stuppaeck requested to the organizers that Hoffman’s invitation to speak be withdrawn. Three days later, the organizers announced that Hoffmann had withdrawn from the conference.

“AGLP is happy to have played a role in protecting vulnerable gay patients from potential harm,” Leli responded in a release. “We now hope to work collaboratively with OEGPP to help them formulate a more scientific sound policy toward gay and lesbian patients.” – Issued by Gay Link Content

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