‘Assault on free speech’: Facebook, Instagram bans content promoting 'conversion therapy'

Unsplash/Claudio Schwarz
Unsplash/Claudio Schwarz

A professional psychotherapist who specializes in counseling those with unwanted same-sex attraction has denounced a recent social media ban on posts promoting "conversion therapy."

Recently, Instagram and its owner, Facebook, announced that they were going to ban content that promoted the controversial practice of sexual orientation change efforts therapy, or what critics call "conversion therapy."

Christopher Doyle, a professional counselor and executive director of the Institute for Healthy Families, told The Christian Post that he considers the social media sites’ decision an “assault on free speech and religious liberty.”

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“While the company claims they are taking this action to prevent discrimination towards the LGBT community, the real people they are hurting are those who experience unwanted sexual and gender identity conflicts and are seeking options for healing and ethical, licensed therapy,” said Doyle.

“Everyone should have the right to seek help for unwanted attractions or sexual/gender conflicts without interference, and public companies should not be able to discriminate the views of some they may disagree with for political purposes.”

Doyle explained that the decision should not affect his group because he does not define their practices as constituting “conversion therapy.”

“But I do have clients that have unwanted sexual and gender identity conflicts that may be discouraged from such actions and feel discriminated against,” he added.

The prominent social media sites told CNN Business that they were taking steps to prohibit content that promoted conversion therapy.

“We don't allow attacks against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity and are updating our policies to ban the promotion of conversion therapy services,” said Tara Hopkins, Instagram's public policy director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa in a statement, as reported by CNN.

“We are always reviewing our policies and will continue to consult with experts and people with personal experiences to inform our approach.”

Hopkins explained that they had already removed content from a nonprofit Christian ministry group based in the United Kingdom called Core Issues Trust.

Core Issues Trust has opposed efforts to ban therapy aimed at treating unwanted same-sex attraction, having denounced a United Nations report that supported banning the practice.

“Make no mistake of it, this report is very sinister. It mixes up allegations of torture against some member states with opposition to laws designed to protect children from gay propaganda and sexualisation,” stated the organization.

“It ignores the varied history of different approaches to homosexuality in different countries, cultures and religions, and thus does not advance understanding of the issues. Should the UN give its official backing to this report, basic freedoms would be at risk worldwide.”

In recent times, many conservatives have denounced political censorship of their ideas on major social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

In late May, President Donald Trump signed an executive order aimed at punishing social media websites that censored individuals on the basis of their ideological views.

“In a country that has long cherished the freedom of expression, we cannot allow a limited number of online platforms to handpick the speech that Americans may access and convey online,” stated the executive order, in part. 

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