Conservatives have been lashing out at Amazon after the online retailer pulled books by the so-called “father of conversion therapy” from sale.
Amazon confirmed earlier this month that it had stopped selling books by Catholic psychologist Dr. Joseph Nicolosi.
In an email to the Huffington Post, the company said that it reserves the right to remove books from sale that breach its content guidelines.
The decision came after more than 82,000 people signed a Change.org petition urging Amazon to remove the books, which promote the widely debunked theory that a person’s sexuality or gender identity can be “cured.”
Nicolosi’s books, including A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality, Healing Homosexuality, and How a Gay Boy Became a Straight Man, are now no longer listed for sale on Amazon.
Nicolosi died in 2017 after a career spent promoting the notion that homosexuality is a result of childhood trauma and could be cured through conversion — or “reparative” — therapy.
He continued his work despite the American Psychiatric Association removing homosexuality from its list of recognized mental illnesses in 1973.
And in 2009, the American Psychological Association said there was “insufficient evidence” to support Nicolosi’s claims, noting that homosexuality is a “normal and positive [variation] of human sexuality.”
Sam Brinton, head of advocacy and government affairs for The Trevor Project, called Amazon’s decision “significant.”
“Amazon is the nation’s largest seller of online books,” Brinton said in a statement. “It is significant that they are taking the threat of conversion therapy seriously by refusing to be a party to the exploitation of concerned parents and other customers who deserve accurate information, not DIY conversion therapy manuals that should clearly be labeled as ‘fiction.’”
Brinton added: “Many of my friends and fellow survivors of conversion therapy can trace their trauma to Nicolosi. His work aimed to prove the ‘science’ of conversion therapy, even though the practice has been discredited as dangerous and harmful by medical experts for decades.”
But some conservatives are less than pleased that Amazon has pulled Nicolosi’s books from its digital shelves.
Right-wing Christian website LifeSiteNews called it a “disturbing move,” adding that tales of “gay transformation” are “wonderful.”
Conservative website The Daily Wire lamented that adults with “unwanted same-sex attraction” will no longer be able to “[seek] out information on how to curtail that desire without any outside pressure.”
Nicolosi’s wife, Linda, told Virtue Online that Amazon’s actions “effectively amount to a stranglehold on the free flow of information for conservatives and people of traditional faith.”
“[Because] Amazon holds a virtual monopoly on book sales, the public will be unable to access information on the causes of homosexuality, and of any hope for change,” she said. “Of course, this is what gay activists want — to control the free flow of information. Their activism was never about tolerance — it was about the marginalization and shaming of anyone with a different viewpoint.”
And in a column for conservative news and opinion site Daily Signal, Nicolosi’s son, Joseph Nicolosi Jr., said that Amazon had caved to LGBT activists.
He claimed that his father used “scientifically sound practices” to “re-orient” gay men’s sexuality “away from obsessions with pornography” and to “reduce their unwanted same-sex attractions.”
Nicolosi Jr. also claims that his father “never advocated so-called conversion therapy” and said that “LGBT ideology has shouted down sound science.”
“This week’s book ban by Amazon and radical LGBT activists reveals the blatant hypocrisy of today’s leaders of the LGBT movement: They celebrate exploration of every kind of sexuality they can imagine, unless that exploration happens to lead an individual toward a traditional, heterosexual lifestyle. That sort of exploration, of course, must be banned,” he wrote. “My hope is that there will be a large enough outcry from consumers that Amazon will rethink its decision. If it doesn’t, my dad’s books won’t be the last to get blacklisted.”
As of writing, Nicolosi’s books remain unavailable. However, as Huffington Post noted, a number of other pro-conversion therapy — or “ex-gay” — books remain on sale, including by Bob Davies, Jackie Hill Perry, and Alan Chambers.
Chambers, former president of “ex-gay” organization Exodus International, came out as gay in 2013 and shuttered Exodus for good.
Speaking to Metro Weekly in 2016, Chambers said that people should be warned against conversion therapy: “This is not something that’s going to work. This is dangerous. It creates shame. It is not something that is going to produce an orientation change in you.”
A number of states and municipalities have passed bans on conversion therapy, in particular on subjecting LGBTQ youth to the dangerous practice.
Colorado became the 18th state to ban the practice earlier this year, with openly gay Gov. Jared Polis signing the ban into law.