A prominent gay British writer is criticizing Amazon for selling books on so-called conversion therapy.
Damian Barr, author of Maggie and Me, was spurred to speak out after spotting a text by Joseph Nicolosi, a leading figure of the "ex-gay" movement who died in 2017. The book's title? A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality: Healing Homosexuality, Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality, and How a Gay Boy Became a Straight Man.
“Amazon has a responsibility to their customers to not profit from or promote self-harm and hate crimes,” Barr told BuzzFeed News. “If you read the comments below you can clearly see the book had caused harm to parents as well as children. Amazon is profiting from the pain of the people affected by this book.”
Conversion therapy is the discredited practice of trying to change a person's sexual orientation. Although it has been condemned as harmful by the American Psychiatric Association, only 15 U.S. states have banned the use of conversion therapy on minors.
Barr stressed that removing Nicolosi's book is "not a freedom of speech issue." Rather, it is a means of protecting people from "outdated, scientifically and psychologically disproven and discredited theories of human sexuality that aren’t just tired, they are harmful."
“Amazon is not being neutral by selling these. Amazon is making a statement about their values by choosing to sell these books," said Barr, adding, "If I owned an independent bookshop, would I put this in the shop window? What does it say about the values of the person who chooses to sell that?"
I just checked and that book really is real. It really is. I am shocked that @amazon is selling a title that actively advocates self-harm and propagates hate crime.
— Damian Barr (@Damian_Barr) February 13, 2019
Recently, Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple removed an app that promoted conversion therapy from their online stores after an online petition from Truth Wins Out drew attention to it.
Google still offers the app, and the tech giant was recently criticized by Pennsylvania State Rep. Brian Sims. “Google's silent refusal to remove this app speaks volumes about the quality of their commitment to the LGBTQ community," said Sims, who said a suspension of the app would "send a clear message to LGBTQ youth across the country that they are perfect the way they are."
Additionally, Amazon made headlines Thursday by announcing it canceled plans for developing a campus in New York City. “A number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward,’’ the company said in a statement.