Booksellers Angus & Robertson have issued an apology after it was reported they were allowing the sale of books promoting conversion therapy.

Tony Nash, the CEO of Angus & Robertson’s parent company Booktopia, said there will be an immediate stocktake to identify titles promoting the widely discredited and harmful practice of conversion therapy, also known as sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE), 7NEWS reported.

The move comes after a Change.org petition last month helped pressure Amazon to remove conversion therapy titles by a major figure in the movement, Joseph Nicolosi, from sale in the US.

Amazon’s Australian arm has reportedly taken the titles down after being approached for comment over their local availability.

As at time of publication, Nicolosi’s books are still present on the Angus & Robertson website but are no longer manually searchable on the website.

An Equality Australia petition is calling on booksellers to remove the titles immediately, with hundreds having added their names to the call.

angus and robertson conversion therapy

A screenshot from Angus & Robertson’s website, taken on August 1 2019.

“Nicolosi’s books have been used to justify these ‘therapies’ in Australia and caused direct harm to people here,” the petition states.

Nash said that the books are “absolutely deplorable” and their sale through Angus & Robertson is “not acceptable for us.”

“We will do anything we can to support all people from all backgrounds just trying to live a normal life,” he said.

Another Australian bookseller, Dymocks, still has Nicolosi’s titles and other conversion therapy texts available for sale, though at significant cost.

Nash said that self-publishing has made filtering out harmful titles far more difficult, and the algorithms that are designed to catch dangerous content don’t always work.

“We’re curating all the time, we’re getting rid of the rubbish, but there are 27 million active books in the world and there’s 4,000 new ones being written every day.”

Books by Joseph Nicolosi remain present on the Dymocks website alongside other titles promoting conversion therapy.

Dymocks is still allowing the sale of titles like Homosexuality: Dispel the Myth, Mend the Broken Pieces and The Sin of Homosexuality, but also promotes the sale of books written from Christian perspectives promoting the acceptance of LGBTI people.

Penguin Random House still promotes the sale of an ex-gay book written by Alan Medinger, the original executive director of Exodus International, and endorsed by Nicolosi which is published by one of its imprints.

The title is still listed as available by a number of outlets in Australia including Dymocks, Angus & Robertson, QBD, and is listed on the Readings website but is out of stock.

Alan Medinger’s book as promoted on the Australian website of Penguin Random House.

Writing for the Star Observer in February, SOCE survivors Chris Csabs and Nathan Despott wrote about Australia’s potential to lead the world in elimination conversion therapy.

“As survivors, we want Australians to know it is not just the practice of conversion therapy that is harmful, but that much of the damage is done by the ideology that underpins the pseudo-therapies,” they wrote.

“The extent to which this ideology of ‘brokenness’ proliferates in Australia’s evangelical churches cannot be overstated.”

In April, the federal Labor Party pledged to outlaw conversion therapy practices in Australia ahead of the election.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that banning conversion therapy wasn’t a priority because he was focused on “on the things we actually have control over”.

The Star Observer has reached out to Dymocks Australia, QBD and Penguin Random House for comment.

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