Facebook announced that both Facebook and Instagram would be banning any content that promotes so-called “conversion therapy.” As reported by CNN Business, Facebook said it would be updating its “hate speech” policies “to include posts that advertise or promote the practice.”
“Conversion therapy” is a term adopted by opponents of change from homosexuality or transgenderism. It’s used by activists to describe any sort of help for individuals with unwanted same-sex attractions or gender confusion – including counseling, prayer and support groups offered by pastors, licensed counselors, churches and Christian ministries.
CNN said Instagram “banned advertisements for the process” earlier this year and that Facebook would “also stop recommending content related to conversion therapy, such as testimonials to its efficacy or posts in praise of or in support of the practice, except those in a legislative context.”
“We don’t allow attacks against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity and are updating our policies to ban the promotion of conversion therapy services,” Tara Hopkins, Instagram’s public policy director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said in a statement to the network.
There is, of course, no specific “process” called “conversion therapy.” The broad and overused term is used to describe any ministry or licensed therapist that helps people who want to live according to their values.
Some Christians with same-sex attractions or gender confusion find that those feelings are in conflict with their deepest spiritual beliefs, so they seek help to change their behaviors, relationships, identity and responses to temptation. Hopkins did not explain how helping such individuals is “an attack against people.”
One of the first groups targeted by Facebook and Instagram is the non-profit ministry Core Issues Trust (CIT). Operating in the United Kingdom, CIT believes the historic Christian teachings about human sexuality, relationships and marriage – that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. The ministry supports those who seek to live according to that pattern and “provides a spiritual home and sensitive support for believers and seekers who struggle with issues of sexual brokenness, including homosexuality.”
Hopkins said “We have removed violating content from @coreissuestrusttv. We are always reviewing our policies and will continue to consult with experts and people with personal experiences to inform our approach.”
Mike Davidson is the CEO of the ministry and Chairman of the International Federation for Therapeutic and Counselling Choice (IFTCC). He posted a series of videos on Facebook and Instagram – “Live with Mike”. They’ve been removed from Instagram and can no longer be viewed on Facebook. They are still available on YouTube.
The videos deal with topics related to homosexuality and sexual addiction for those who want to live according to the biblical sexual ethic. Davidson gives hour-long talks on subjects such as trauma, healthy attachment, emotional dependency, assertiveness and addictions.
Davidson is no stranger to controversy and intolerance. After three years of training to become a psychotherapist, in 2011 he was removed from the program on “public safety” grounds – simply for saying he believed “people should have access to professional help to leave unwanted homosexual feelings and attractions if that’s what they seek.”
In 2017, he appeared on Good Morning Britain with Piers Morgan. In a combative episode, Morgan asked if Davidson thought people were “born gay.” Davidson replied, “I think that people are not born gay, that they come into homosexual feelings, and that it is something that – in some cases – is reversible.”
Morgan went on a rant where he called people like Davidson “horrible little bigots” and “a malevolent and dangerous part of our society.” Later in the program Morgan shouted, “Shut up you old bigot.”
Davidson kept his cool and replied, “You’re not giving people who have a right to find their own pathway in life the freedom and the space to be able to do it.” Davidson said that true democracies will defend the rights of the minority to make their own choices – including leaving homosexuality.
The program became Britain’s “most complained about TV show of 2017,” with viewers expressing opinions on both sides of the issue.
The next year, CIT released a documentary film, Voices of the Silenced, which describes the contribution of Judeo-Christian values to Western civilization and explains efforts to silence those who speak in favor of biblical values. The film features interviews with 15 people who are walking away from homosexuality. Voices of the Silenced was protested and picketed, and opponents were successful in persuading different venues to refuse showing the film.
Opposition to CIT’s work has increased. In recent months, CIT has received hundreds of abusive telephone calls, emails, text messages, and Facebook and Instagram comments. Various tech support and payment processing companies have terminated CIT’s accounts.
Beyond CIT, intolerance toward other groups helping people leave homosexuality and transgenderism is growing. We spoke off the record with several U.S.-based organizations. They’re starting to see Facebook and other social media refuse advertisements, limit posts and suspend their accounts. Many are gearing up to move to other platforms that accommodate Christian values about sexuality.
Related resources and articles:
Focus on the Family’s Position: Counseling for Unwanted Homosexuality
Counseling for Sexual Identity Concerns: A measured, careful, and compassionate approach
Therapy Bans Threaten Religious Freedom, Free Speech and Parental Rights
Do People Change from Homosexuality? Hundreds of Stories of Hope and Transformation
Amazon Bans Books on Change from Homosexuality
Why We Support Therapy for Unwanted Homosexuality
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