An American court has ruled that sexual orientation discrimination laws should apply to former homosexuals who have left the gay lifestyle.
The court said the laws defined homosexuality as a “practice” or “preference”, rather than a fixed trait.
The decision is likely to reignite the debate over whether homosexuals can change to become heterosexual.
PFOX (Parents and Friends of ExGays and Gays), which brought the case, welcomed the ruling which overturned a previous decision by the District of Columbia’s Office of Human Rights (OHR).
PFOX had claimed it had been discriminated against on grounds of sexual orientation when a teaching union refused to allow the group a booth at a national exhibition in case it offended homosexual groups.
“Gay activists demand equality while denying it to others”, commented Regina Griggs, Executive Director of PFOX.
The OHR had originally decided that discrimination laws only protected immutable, or fixed, characteristics, so PFOX was not covered.
But in its judgment, the superior court in the District of Columbia called this argument “erroneous” and said that the law’s “definition of sexual orientation defines an individual’s sexuality as a ‘preference’ or ‘practice'”.
Greg Quinlan, a Director of PFOX, said: “All sexual orientation laws and programs nationwide should now provide true diversity and equality by including former homosexuals”.
Many members of the UK’s homosexual lobby argue that homosexuality is a fixed characteristic like race, and so-called ‘ex-gay’ therapies have been attacked as “dangerous” and “homophobic”. The American Psychological Association recently released a report denying that sexual orientation can change.
However, in March it emerged that almost a fifth of therapists in the UK had helped patients deal with unwanted homosexual attraction.
‘Gay rights’ activist Peter Tatchell has described being homosexual as “a choice, and we should be glad it’s that way and celebrate it for ourselves”.
In April an American therapist who helps men struggling with same-sex attraction spoke at a conference in London.
Dr Joseph Nicolosi told the BBC his approach focuses on men’s “sense of self, self-esteem, relational issues, attachment issues, intimacy issues” rather than homosexual activity itself.
However, he said, by addressing these deeper issues many men find a “diminishment in their homosexual temptations” and “an increase in their attraction towards women”. Around two in three men change their sexual orientation as a result of the therapy, he said.
A study at Columbia University in 2001 found that homosexuals could become “predominantly” heterosexual through psychotherapy.
This study was significant because it was carried out by Professor Robert Spitzer, a psychiatrist with a long track record of supporting ‘gay rights’.