An example is provided by the American website Positive Approaches To Healthy Sexuality (PATH). His $150 “counsellor training program,” designed for therapists and ministry leaders who would, in turn, “help” LGBTIQ people change their “same-sex attraction” and enter heterosexual relationships . The training includes over 18 hours of recordings and a 180-page manual.
It was designed by Richard Cohen, a prominent figure in the “ex-gay” movement in the United States, who identifies as a “former gay man”, is now married to a woman and has three children. In 2002, he was permanently expelled from the American Counseling Association for multiple ethical violations.
“In Spain, the main discourse of conversion therapy authors comes directly from Richard Cohen,” according to Castro. He also says that “teenagers who lack education about the LGBTIQ community” are the “most susceptible” to Cohen’s ideas if they come across his books online.
In 2012, Cohen promoted his latest book, “Coming Out Straight: Understanding and Healing Homosexuality,” in Madrid at the sixth conference of the ultra-conservative World Congress of Families (WCF) network.
A 2020 investigation by openDemocracy found that WCF is linked to $280 million in “dark money” spent overseas by American Christian right-wing groups since 2007. More money has been spent in Europe than in any other region.
The late Joseph Nicolosi is another American practitioner of “reparative therapy” – an alternate term for conversion therapy – with significant influence overseas. A Google search in Spain for “cómo dejar de ser gay(“how to stop being gay”) yields results for five books by Nicolosi.
“Conversion therapy must be criminalized”
For Castro, simply banning conversion therapy in Spain doesn’t go far enough.
“Conversion therapy must be criminalized,” he said. “Our penal code must be amended, not only [to stop] impunity, but for those responsible for promoting the practice and violence to be locked up in prison… Fines are not a deterrent, but prison is.
Spain is the home of CitizenGo, a far-right ultra-Catholic advocacy group, which has created bailout funds for anti-LGBTIQ groups in the past.
Since the publication of his book in June, six other survivors of conversion therapy have contacted Castro. He encourages people to report cases to his organization, No Es Terapia.
“I don’t hope that [criminal proceedings] will happen,” Castro said. “I will make them.”