“Ex-Gay” Movement = Genocide?
I am fascinated by the steps people take to go from speaking hateful things about LGBT people to committing hateful and violent acts against the same group. Of course, I see the connection, but I am amazed what enables ordinary people to do horrific things and how their words and beliefs feed into these acts. I am especially sensitive to this topic in terms of the rhetoric and tactics of reparative therapies and “ex-gay ministries” since I fell prey to these cult-like organizations when I first began to deal with my own sexuality. Truly, the things these groups said and taught in the name of “Jesus’ healing” ended up making the vast majority of their participants hate themselves ... often to the extreme of suicide.
This is why I was captivated by Sue E. Spivey and Christine M. Robinson’s new study in the April edition of the journal Genocide Studies and Prevention called “Genocidal Intentions: Social Death and the Ex-Gay Movement.” Not only do they outline word-action connections, but they clearly show how the “ex-gay” movement fits several of the United Nations definitions of genocide, and they do this using the ex-gay leadership’s own words and literature.
Sounds severe? Read on.
When we hear a newscaster use the word “genocide,” we probably know what it means — mass murder, ethnic cleansing, etc. In some ways the downside to this definition is that it is usually used in hindsight. This definition is only useful to define what has already happened without it giving us any predictors to prevent regular people and societies from committing unspeakable acts of violence against a whole group of people.
This is why the U.N.’s definition of genocide is larger than a simple “mass murder” description. The 1948 Untied Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, articles II(b)-(e) outlined a number of ways genocide can be framed for the purpose of prediction and prevention. For example, here are just two points: (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; and (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.