SOMERVILLE, MA: Despite the Wednesday announcement that the prominent U.S. “ex-gay” organization Exodus International would be closing its doors permanently, a vibrant global network remains committed to the discredited project of converting LGBTQ people into heterosexuals through conservative Christian ministry and pseudo-scientific psychotherapies.
Exodus International, in spite of its name, is only the founding North American branch of the Exodus Global Alliance, which since 1995 has expanded across several continents. While Exodus International’s closure is a victory for LGBTQ rights and safety and a blow to the “ex-gay” movement, human rights defenders must continue to challenge this harmful global network.
The Global Alliance, claiming that “change is possible,” continues to operate in Latin America, Asia, and even cites affiliated ministries in the U.S. and Canada, which still support the effectiveness of ex-gay therapy. Last year, after Exodus International Executive Director Alan Chambers rejected the existence of a “cure” for homosexuality and said that “99.9 percent of Exodus participants have not experienced a change in their orientation,” dissenting member organizations and individuals broke away to form the Restored Hope Network.
“I am so thankful that Restored Hope Network exists at this time to continue the message of transformation and new life in Christ,” stated Frank Worthen, co-founder of both Exodus International and the Restored Hope Network, in a press release on Exodus International’s closure. The breakaway organization is currently hosting its second annual conference.
A recent report by Political Research Associates (PRA), The Ex-Gay Movement in Latin America, exposes the harm perpetrated by Exodus Global Alliance organizations, particularly in Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina. In Brazil, for example, conservatives in the national congress are attempting to overturn a ban on sexuality conversion therapies established by the country’s regulatory psychological association.
While schisms and differences of opinion exist within the global “ex-gay” movement, it nonetheless continues to use Exodus and affiliated groups, like the U.S. based Living Waters/Aguas Vivas, to peddle dangerous myths about homosexuality as a sinful and curable condition.
Exodus Global Alliance and the concept of “ex-gay” therapy have also made inroads beyond the Christian Right and into more mainstream evangelical bodies, such as the Lausanne Movement associated with Billy Graham. Such ideology poses a grave danger to LGBTQ individuals even on continents where Exodus Global is less involved, such as Africa.
“The claim that gays can and should be ‘healed’ is repeated by such antigay Ugandan pastors as Archbishop Henry Orombi … and Martin Ssempa, and politicians like David Bahati, the sponsor of Uganda’s ‘Kill the Gays’ bill,” wrote PRA researcher Rev. Kapya Kaoma, author of two groundbreaking reports on the U.S. Christian Right in Africa. “As the Christian Right’s anti-LGBTQ agenda continues to spread globally, we must have a unified and vigilant approach to stopping it.”
For background on the ex-gay movement and Exodus International, see PRA’s 1998 report, co-authored with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and Equal Partners in Faith, Calculated Compassion: How the Ex-Gay Movement Serves the Right’s Attack on Democracy (PDF).