National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality

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The National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), also known as the NARTH Institute, is a US organization that promotes conversion therapy, a pseudoscientific practice used in attempts to change the sexual orientation of people with same-sex attraction.[1] NARTH was founded in 1992 by Joseph Nicolosi, Benjamin Kaufman, and Charles Socarides. Its headquarters were in Encino, California, at its Thomas Aquinas Psychological Clinic. It has operated under the name Alliance for Therapeutic Choice and Scientific Integrity (ATCSI) since 2014.[2][3] NARTH is not recognized by any major United States-based professional association.[4]

NARTH's promotion of conversion therapy as a scientifically supported therapeutic method is contradicted by overwhelming scientific consensus.[5] For example, the American Psychological Association (APA) states that homosexuality is a normal and positive variation of human sexual orientation, and is not a mental disorder.[6] The APA's Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation affirms the tension between some religious values and other organizations and the existence of a subset of individuals who are distressed about their same-sex attraction, but it says it has not found adequately rigorous studies that suggest sexual orientation change efforts are successful. The APA Task Force has also found that some individuals reported being harmed by sexual orientation change efforts.[6]


NARTH was founded in 1992 by Benjamin Kaufman, Charles Socarides, and Joseph Nicolosi. In an article titled "In Defense of the Need for Honest Dialogue", Kaufman wrote that the three of them founded NARTH because the American Psychiatric Association and similar professional organizations "had totally stifled the scientific inquiry that would be necessary to stimulate a discussion" about homosexuality.[7]

The organization had 501(c)(3) tax exempt status, which was revoked by the Internal Revenue Service in September 2012 due to ongoing failure to file required paperwork.[8]


NARTH claimed to be a secular organization, differentiating it from other ex-gay groups that were primarily religious in nature. Nevertheless, NARTH often partnered with religious groups,[9] such as Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing, Joel 2:25 International, and Evergreen International in Positive Alternatives to Homosexuality.

In July 2011, NARTH failed to pay its dues to the California Board for Behavioral Sciences and was removed from the list of groups that provide continuing education credits to therapists in California. NARTH had been an approved continuing education provider since 1998.[10]

No schools, universities or professional programs currently train counselors in reparative therapy.[11]


NARTH had several connections to Evergreen International and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Evergreen website referenced the therapeutic methods of NARTH founder Joseph Nicolosi as "beneficial".[12] Nicolosi worked with A. Dean Byrd (an Evergreen Board member, Director of Clinical Training for LDS Social Services, Brigham Young University professor, and founder of the Foundation for Attraction Research) to author several papers on reparative therapy.[13] Byrd also served as president of NARTH and also published an article[14] in the LDS church's September 1999 Ensign.[15]

In 2003, the leaders of Positive Alternatives to Homosexuality (PATH) made NARTH a member.


Stances on the etiology and mutability of homosexuality[edit]

The founders held that homosexuality is a treatable mental illness and that a person's sexual orientation can be changed through therapy. Such conversion therapy is pseudoscientific,[1] harmful, and unethical according to major medical and psychological organisations in the United States[6][16][17] and elsewhere.[18][19] Socarides in particular said in the mid-1990s that he had treated about a thousand homosexual patients, and cured over a third by dealing with the parental causes of an absent father and overbearing mother.[20]

Claims that pathologize homosexuality and state that it can be changed through therapy have been denounced by almost every major US medical association, including the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association.[17][21] In 2006 the American Psychological Association declared that NARTH created "an environment in which prejudice and discrimination can flourish".[22] The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) singled the group out as a main source of junk science used by hate groups to justify anti-gay rhetoric.[17] NARTH was accused of employing abusive methods to attempt to change sexual orientation by the Human Rights Campaign and Truth Wins Out.[23][24][25]

Abba Goldberg[edit]

In 2010, NARTH’s executive secretary Abba Goldberg disclosed a 1991 criminal conviction for conspiracy and fraud, for which he served 18 months in prison.[26]

George Rekers[edit]

George Rekers was a former officer and scientific advisor of the NARTH.[27][28] Rekers has testified in court that homosexuality is destructive, and against parenthood by gay and lesbian people in a number of court cases involving organizations and state agencies working with children.[29] In May 2010 Rekers employed a male prostitute as a travel companion for a two-week vacation in Europe.[30][31][32] Rekers denied any inappropriate conduct and suggestions that he was gay. The male escort told CNN he had given Rekers "sexual massages" while traveling together in Europe.[33] Rekers subsequently resigned from the board of NARTH.[30][34]

Gerald Schoenewolf[edit]

In April 2005, NARTH published on its website an essay titled "Gay Rights and Political Correctness: A Brief History", written by Gerald Schoenewolf, a member of NARTH's Science Advisory Committee. The essay made several controversial claims, including that the civil rights and gay rights movements are "destructive", that the American Psychological Association "has been taken over by extremist gays", and that Africans were fortunate to have been sold into slavery.[35] The SPLC called it an angry polemic that made outrageous historical claims and criticised both NARTH and Schoenewolf. The essay drew little attention until a letter of protest was presented to NARTH by the National Black Justice Coalition in mid-September 2006. Truth Wins Out then called on Focus on the Family to cancel a planned appearance by Nicolosi at their conference. Nicolosi appeared as planned but the Schoenewolf essay was removed from the NARTH website the same day. On October 6, 2006, NARTH published a statement: "NARTH regrets the comments made by Dr. Schoenewolf about slavery which have been misconstrued by some of our readers."[35]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Haldeman, Douglas C. (December 1999). "The Pseudo-science of Sexual Orientation Conversion Therapy" (PDF). Angles: The Policy Journal of the Institute for Gay and Lesbian Strategic Studies. 4 (1): 1–4. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 7, 2018. Retrieved March 16, 2018.
  2. ^ Sutton, Philip M. (November 2015). "Professional care for unwanted same-sex attraction: What does the research say?". The Linacre Quarterly. 82 (4): 351–363. doi:10.1179/0024363915Z.000000000147. PMC 4771007. PMID 26997676.
  3. ^ Quandt, Katie Rose (August 8, 2014). ""Ex-Gay" Conversion Therapy Group Rebrands, Stresses "Rights of Clients"". Mother Jones. Retrieved November 29, 2016.
  4. ^ Moss, Kevin (2021). "Russia's Queer Science, or How Anti‐LGBT Scholarship is Made". The Russian Review. 80 (1): 17–36. doi:10.1111/russ.12296. S2CID 234307412.
  5. ^ Spitzer, R. L. (1981). "The diagnostic status of homosexuality in DSM-III: a reformulation of the issues". American Journal of Psychiatry. 138 (2): 210–15. doi:10.1176/ajp.138.2.210. PMID 7457641.
  6. ^ a b c American Psychological Association Council of Representatives (August 5, 2009). "Resolution on Appropriate Affirmative Responses to Sexual Orientation Distress and Change Efforts" (PDF). APA Policy Statement on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender concerns. American Psychological Association. {{cite book}}: |website= ignored (help)
    Also included within: Anton, Barry S. (2010). "Proceedings of the American Psychological Association for the legislative year 2009: Minutes of the annual meeting of the Council of Representatives and minutes of the meetings of the Board of Directors". American Psychologist. 65 (5): 385–475. doi:10.1037/a0019553.
  7. ^ "In Defense of the Need for Honest Dialogue". NARTH.
  8. ^ "Exempt Organizations Select Check".
  9. ^ Ariel Shidlo; Michael Schroeder; Jack Drescher (2001). Sexual Conversion Therapy: Ethical, Clinical, and Research Perspectives. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-7890-1911-0.
  10. ^ NARTH No Longer Providing Continuing Education to California Therapists. San Francisco Chronicle, July 2011
  11. ^ Greg Johnson, Still Time to Care: What We Can Learn from the Church's Failed Attempt to Cure Homosexuality
  12. ^ Park, Jason. "Therapy". Evergreen International. Archived from the original on April 15, 2005. Retrieved November 29, 2016.
  13. ^ Nicolosi, Joseph; Byrd, A. Dean; Potts, Richard W. (June 2000). "Retrospective self-reports of changes in homosexual orientation: A consumer survey of conversion therapy clients". Psychological Reports. 86 (3_suppl): 1071–1088. doi:10.2466/pr0.2000.86.3c.1071. PMID 10932560. S2CID 36702477.
  14. ^ Byrd, A. Dean. "When a Loved One Struggles with Same-Sex Attraction". LDS Church. Retrieved November 16, 2016.
  15. ^ "Controversial Leader of 'Ex-Gay' Therapy Group Steps Down as Criticism Mounts". NBC29 News WVIR Charlottesville, VA. December 7, 2006. Archived from the original on November 29, 2016. Retrieved November 29, 2016.
  16. ^ American Psychiatric Association (May 2000). "Position Statement on Therapies Focused on Attempts to Change Sexual Orientation (Reparative or Conversion Therapies)". American Psychiatric Association. Archived from the original on January 10, 2011. Retrieved August 28, 2007.
  17. ^ a b c Lenz, Ryan. "NARTH Becomes Main Source for Anti-Gay 'Junk Science'". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved May 20, 2017.
  18. ^ Committee for Therapeutic Interventions and Evidence-Based Practice, Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (June 2015). "Position Statement 60 – Sexual orientation change efforts". Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists. Archived from the original on January 17, 2018. Retrieved March 17, 2018. The harm such therapies can cause to individuals, the contribution they make to the misrepresentation of homosexuality as a mental disorder, and the prejudice and discrimination that can flourish through the use of such therapies has led all major medical organisations to oppose the use of sexual orientation change efforts.
    * The RANZCP does not support the use of sexual orientation change efforts of any kind
    * Mental health workers must avoid misrepresenting the efficacy of sexual orientation change efforts when providing assistance to people distressed by their own or others' sexual orientation
    * Mental health workers should assist people distressed by their sexual orientation by care and treatment approaches that involve acceptance, support, and identity exploration. These should aim to reduce the stigma associated with homosexuality and respect the person's religious beliefs.
  19. ^ Board, Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (March 2016). "Position Statement 83 – Recognising and addressing the mental health needs of people identifying as LGBTI". Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists. Archived from the original on October 1, 2017. Retrieved March 17, 2018. [S]exual orientation change efforts, or often non-consensual therapies intended to change the sexual orientation of a person, are now broadly understood to be harmful and unethical
  20. ^ "Charles Socarides Dies; Said He 'Cured' Gays". Washington Post. Los Angeles Times. January 2, 2006. Retrieved November 29, 2016.
  21. ^ Butterworth, Benjamin (March 10, 2017). "The man behind the lie of 'gay cure' therapy has died". Pink News. Retrieved May 20, 2017.
  22. ^ "Therapist who fought to 'cure' gays dies in California at 70". March 10, 2017.
  23. ^ "False & Abusive Practices Aimed at "Changing" Sexual Orientation take Another Discrediting Blow". Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved March 17, 2018.
  24. ^ "TWO Report: Gerard van den Aardweg, NARTH's Nastiest Reparative Therapist". Truth Wins Out. Archived from the original on February 5, 2013. Retrieved March 17, 2018.
  25. ^ "Evangelical Professor Warns Christians Not To Blindly Support NARTH's Reparative Therapy". Truth Wins Out. Retrieved March 17, 2018.
  26. ^ "Scandal Yields Windfall for an Impoverished City". New York Times. February 4, 1991. Retrieved August 24, 2018.
  27. ^ "NARTH Scientific Advisory Committee". NARTH. Archived from the original on June 17, 2008. Retrieved June 4, 2010.
  28. ^ "NARTH Officers". NARTH. June 2, 2009. Archived from the original on January 4, 2010. Retrieved June 4, 2010.
  29. ^ "Howard v. Arkansas - George Rekers Fact Sheet". American Civil Liberties Union. 2007. Retrieved April 26, 2020.
  30. ^ a b Schwartz, John (May 18, 2010). "Scandal Stirs Legal Questions in Anti-Gay Cases". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 26, 2020.
  31. ^ Thorp, Brandon K.; Bullock, Penn (May 13, 2010). "How George Alan Rekers and his Rent-boy got Busted by New Times". Miami New Times. Archived from the original on June 7, 2014. Retrieved April 26, 2020.
  32. ^ Bryne, John (May 4, 2010). "Exposed: Christian leader caught with male escort says he needed help with his luggage". The Raw Story.
  33. ^ Anderson Cooper (May 7, 2010). "Sex Scandal Accusations and Denials". AC-360. 1:10 and 3:38 minutes in. CNN. Archived from the original on November 3, 2010.
  34. ^ "Anti-gay activist George Rekers resigns over holiday with male prostitute". PinkNews, (formerly The Pink Paper). May 13, 2010. Retrieved April 26, 2020.
  35. ^ a b Mock, Brentin (January 16, 2007). "Anti-Gay Organization NARTH Publishes Essay on Gay Rights and Political Correctness". Intelligence Report (124). Archived from the original on July 26, 2015. Retrieved August 11, 2018.

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