Short Chat with Pirate Jen Takahashi – Administrative Coordinator, Lethbridge Public Interest Research Group (LPIRG)

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: For those that don’t know, what is the situation with the conversion therapy ban ongoing at the moment?
 
Pirate Jen Takahashi (petition): We are continuing to collect signatures on letters. We are continuing to reach out to PRIDE organizations and churches in the province. The letters are a sign of support, of solidarity with the ban and the PRIDE community. We are showing the government there is this support and that we want to see this ban happen. You can go on the website and add your own thoughts, stories, or suggestions to the letter. It auto-sends to multiple ministers, MLAs, and the Premier.
Recently, Minister Hoffman made some statements to the effect that she doesn’t see conversion therapy as a problem in the province. We beg to differ. She said to contact her office directly about conversion therapy. It is offensive and tone deaf. It destroys families and lives in communities regarding work and education.
Jacobsen: How does one respond to an individual who considers conversion therapy effective, when there’s no evidence for it?
Takahashi: There’s no way to respond to someone who believes raping and torturing someone will change their biology and genetics. There is no amount of science and evidence out there that will prove to these people that they are wrong. We have report and study, report and study, that conversion therapy doesn’t work. These people can’t believe otherwise. That you can rape the gay out of somebody.
Jacobsen What faith organizations are the main endorsers and practitioners?
Takahashi: Typically, Reform and Evangelicals are the ones who do this. The Mormon church gave this up a while ago. It is Evangelical and Dutch Reform, especially here in Southern Alberta. They will be the ones in compounds with the most virulent forms of it.
Jacobsen: What have been the most tragic stories to come out?
 
Takahashi: One was a gentleman who was queer-identifying and actually handcuffed down and forced to watch pornography while being electrocuted. The theory was he would then associate gay sex with violence. Those negative neural pathways being built was the idea. It is that pseudoscience. There is also a particularly upsetting woman, a queer-identifying woman, who was raped. She had decided, queer or not, to save herself for marriage. The church told her it doesn’t count as sex because Jesus wanted this to happen to cure her. So, she was raped and received no support or therapy to deal with the trauma of rape.

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