July 24, 2019

Republican caucus wants gay conversion therapy books to be more widely available


In the past we have written about how breathtakingly homophobic the concept of gay conversion therapy is, and how it is bad science that must be stamped out wherever it seems to be smoldering.

So it makes sense that certain Republicans have chosen defending gay conversion therapy as a worthy cause—specifically in their effort to lobby Amazon to lift its removal of books about the practice.

As Daniel Newhauser writes for Vice of a situation that developed last week:

The Republican Study Committee, a conservative caucus that includes more than 70% of all GOP House members, issued a handout during a private meeting in the Capitol Wednesday asking members to “contact Amazon with concerns” about what they referred to as “Amazon censorship.”

Amazon removed books by Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, a clinical psychologist who is credited with originating gay conversion therapy, a debunked—and in some cases illegal—pseudoscientific method of trying to turn gay people straight.

It’s a rare MobyLives post where we “gotta hand it to Amazon,” but this seems like they have taken the right course of action.

After all, these are books with “advice” that could actively hurt people—and have been found to have negative effects on mental health and increase risk in suicide. That is something completely different from an innocuous pop-up stand in the marketplace of ideas.

Nicolosi’s defenders, including his son, tend to follow an awkward line of argument for the books’ reinstatement. It goes something like, “Amazon still carries Mein Kampf and other foundational books about fascism and white supremacy—we’d just like to be treated like that category of books!” And they might have a point: books on gay conversion therapy should be picked apart line by line in middle and high school curriculums to ensure their ideas don’t ever resurface in science or culture.



Ryan Harrington is a senior editor at Melville House.