Richard Cohen sent this letter today to his mailing list.
January 5, 2010
Dear Ugandan Legislators,
My name is Richard Cohen. I am a psychotherapist, former homosexual, and director of the International Healing Foundation in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. In March 2009, we sent a representative, Caleb Brundidge, to Kampala to share his wonderful story of transformation from homosexual to heterosexual at the Family Life Network conference. The purpose of the conference, as we understood it, was to inform people about the causes and potential healing of unwanted same-sex attraction. We had absolutely no idea that the teachings at the conference would be misused to contribute in any way to the persecution and criminalization of homosexuals as proposed in the Anti-Homosexuality Bill No. 18. If we had had any inkling of such an outcome, we never would have considered participating.
Over the past twenty years, as a psychotherapist, I was privileged to help thousands of men and women worldwide find freedom from homosexuality and fulfill their heterosexual dreams. Mr. Brundidge has likewise helped many find freedom from homosexuality. However, I shudder to think that if we had lived in Uganda under this proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill, at a time before we found a way out of homosexuality, your legislation may have resulted in our being executed or incarcerated, as we both lived openly homosexual lives previous to our transformation. That thought is horrifying, and makes this bill very personal to me. I struggled for years with my unwanted same-sex attractions (SSA), but no one knew how to help me. Finally, after many years and tears, I discovered the causes for my same-sex attractions and then deep, lasting, and profound healing occurred in my life. Today I am living my dream, married to my wonderful wife Jae Sook (who hails from Korea) and we have three beautiful children.
I strongly believe that Bill No. 18 is extreme, cruel, and counter-productive. No one will benefit if you criminalize people who experience homosexual feelings that they never chose and cannot simply wish away through willpower or prayer alone. We have found that sexual reorientation therapies have been extremely beneficial and effective for those seeking change. However, this bill would frighten all people from seeking the very help they need, and that many want. In such a punitive environment, people like me would be terrified to reach out and ask for the help, love, and support that can bring real change.
I understand that a motivating factor behind this proposed legislation is the report of young children and those with disabilities being raped by HIV-infected persons. There is no doubt that this terrible behavior must be stopped. However, I believe that the bill, as written, is too broad in incriminating all persons who experience homosexual feelings and does not take into account heterosexual sexual abuse and the spread of HIV through heterosexual activity. I recommend amending the language in the bill to be more specific regarding consequences for those who abuse and rape minors and disabled people, regardless of their sexual preference. Furthermore, if you truly wish to be pro-active in the issue of homosexuality we recommend: 1) make available in your therapeutic agencies, places of worship, and public institutions opportunities for men and women who experience same-sex attractions to voluntarily receive confidential counseling, and 2) insure the legal protection of former homosexuals. Such an enlightened program would become a beacon of light in the world for true healing and transformation, far better than condemnation and punishment, by providing care, concern, and solution.
We at the International Healing Foundation believe in promoting understanding, love, and support for those struggling with unwanted same-sex attraction, and also providing help for their family members and friends. This bill, as written, would punish the very people who are hurting and in need and discourage them from seeking the assistance that could otherwise result in transformation. In fact, it would send them underground, suffering in silence, only generating more pain and sadness.
I implore you to rewrite this proposed legislation and remove any criminalization for people who experience homosexual attractions. Rather, please provide counseling and opportunities for change which would be far more beneficial for those in need.
Thank you for your kind consideration in this matter.
Richard Cohen, M.A.
International Healing Foundation
It would have been nice for him to simply denounce the bill without the sales pitch.