The head of the American Psychological Association (APA) has been forced to clarify a recent statement, after pro-family groups suggested he believed sexual orientation could be changed.

According to The Washington Times, APA president Gerald P. Koocher told the APA general convention in August his organisation had no conflict with psychologists who help those distressed by unwanted homosexual attraction.

The APA has been a long-time critic of so-called conversion therapy, heralded by the US ex-gay movement as a way to change unwanted same-sex attraction.

The organisation also issued a statement in support of legalising same-sex civil marriages and against discrimination of gay and lesbian parents in 2004.

Koocher later clarified his statement.

Sharon Slater, president of United Families International (UFI), issued a statement in support of Koocher’s comments on the UFI website, suggesting the statement offered hope for those afflicted with unwanted same-sex desire.

Over the past three decades or so, the APA had increasingly been taking a -˜politically correct’ position on homosexuality, including an aggressive position opposing treatment of unwanted attraction, Slater wrote.

Homosexual activists and their allies try to argue that homosexuality is genetic or otherwise innate and immutable because it furthers their policy objectives.

Recent polls show that an increasing number of people in the US are buying into that myth, with clear implications for the policy debate on marriage and other issues.

Other organisations in support of conversion therapy picketed outside the convention -“ later claiming their presence encouraged Koocher’s comments.

But Koocher later said treatments to change sexual orientation lacked a validated scientific foundation and [could] prove psychologically harmful.

He said his original statement meant the APA supported patient’s choice to see psychologists whenever they felt it was necessary.

Houston Voice editor Wayne Besen wrote in an editorial this week ex-gay organisations were guilty of cynically spinning an off-the-cuff remark, a day after the APA had released a statement against the idea of conversion therapy.

[This] is neither historic nor is it new, Besen wrote of Koocher’s statement.

It simply reaffirmed the APA’s long-standing principle that patients have the right to seek virtually any type of therapy they want, so long as the therapist explains the APA’s current position and warns the patient of the potentially harmful consequences such therapy may produce.

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