UK & World News
Gay Conversion Therapy 'Could Be Harmful'
So-called gay conversion therapy is ineffective and potentially harmful, the American Psychiatric Association has told Sky News.
Moves to end the practice are growing across the US with bans in New Jersey and California.
Virginia is the latest state to debate the therapy which practitioners claim can stop someone being gay.
In the state's general assembly, emotions run high as people who have gone through it offer their story.
Fighting back tears, 36-year-old Gail Dickert said: "There was the 10-year-old girl that was taught she would be bullied because I wasn't right with God.
"The 12-year-old taught she was molested because God was trying to teach her something about boys and she's gay because her mom is too strong and her dad must be a bad man."
From the age of 12, counsellors told Ms Dickert her homosexual feelings must have been caused by her father sexually abusing her. He died before she could tell him her accusations were false.
"No I never got to say, on this side of his presence: 'No dad I know that really wasn't a memory'. I never got to say that to him and that is not something I can do anything about. It's the reality so all I can do is say - enough."
For 10 years, Apryl Prentiss was told being a lesbian was evil - her church therapy group went to extreme measures to rid her of it.
"As we were trying these techniques none of them were working," she said.
"It became much more aggressive and we got into praying and laying on of hands with them screaming to renounce the demon of homosexuality and renounce the demon of rebellion.
"It was an exorcism. It did eventually lead to an exorcism - an attempted one obviously."
Christopher Doyle says he is no longer gay. Now married with three children, he works as a therapist treating clients who want to rid themselves of same sex attraction. I asked him if he ever experiences homosexual feelings.
"Not at all. Not at all. I have absolutely no same sex attractions and I have clients and colleagues that have also had similar experience to me where they once felt this way and they don't anymore. Now let's be clear - not everybody is going to have that story.
"Not all clients that go into therapy are going to completely eliminate their same sex attractions and that's a reality but there are some that do."
As well as therapy sessions, healing weekends offer group therapy techniques to get rid of homosexual attractions.
Back in Virginia's general assembly, powerful testimony was not enough to sway the largely republican panel - they voted not to ban conversion therapy.
For Mr Doyle's client, Nathan Gniewek, that's good news.
"The tendencies for attraction to the same sex have definitely declined," he said.
"There's no doubt that is so much less severe than it used to be. And as of late I've begun to notice women in ways that I hadn't before - it's like 'oh this is new and interesting'."
But for those who testified it is a devastating blow - but they say they will continue their fight to protect children from suffering the way they did.
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