Republicans are reportedly urging their colleagues in Congress to pressure Amazon into selling books that promote conversion therapy.
That’s according to Vice News, which has exclusively obtained a handout from the Republican Study Committee — a caucus that includes more than 70% of all GOP members of the U.S. House of Representatives.
The handout was distributed to members during a meeting on Wednesday, and urged them to “contact Amazon with concerns” about “Amazon censorship.”
The “censorship” in question concerns Amazon ceasing sales of books by a man known as the “father of conversion therapy.”
Amazon confirmed earlier this month that it had stopped selling books by the late Catholic psychologist Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, which advocate for conversion therapy as an effective way of changing a person’s sexuality or gender identity.
Conversion therapy — which has been widely and repeatedly debunked — purports to change sexuality or gender identity using a variety of methods, including talk therapy or more extreme options such as shock therapy.
A petition urging Amazon to stop stocking Nicolosi’s books had been signed by more than 82,000 people prior to decision to remove them.
In a statement, Amazon said that it reserved the right to remove books that breached its content guidelines — though that wasn’t enough to stop conservatives venting their frustration over the removal.
Nicolosi’s wife, Linda, said that Amazon’s actions “effectively amount to a stranglehold on the free flow of information for conservatives and people of traditional faith.”
And now it seems House Republicans are joining the outcry over Amazon removing books that are harmful to LGBTQ people.
The handout distributed during the meeting said that Amazon had “banned the sale of several books addressing unwanted same-sex attraction,” and that Nicolosi’s books assisted men “struggling with unwanted homosexual attractions, feelings and lifestyles.”
“These books were available on Amazon until an LGBT activist repeatedly petitioned Amazon to remove the ‘homophobic books’ from the company’s website,” the handout reads. “Amazon removed Dr. Nicolosi’s books and those of several other authors on similar topics. It is not clear that any of the banned books have violated an Amazon policy, but rather that the company is choosing to censor speech.”
While House Republicans seem eager to push Amazon to sell conversion therapy literature, 18 states and a number of cities and municipalities — including the District of Columbia — have passed bans on conversion therapy.
Colorado became the 18th state to ban the practice earlier this year, with openly gay Gov. Jared Polis signing the ban into law.
And a congressional bill introduced by Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu seeks to ban conversion therapy nationwide by classifying it as a form of consumer fraud, due to its ineffectiveness and harm.
However, while Amazon has removed Nicolosi’s books from sale, 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.”