With a referendum that will decide whether to legalize same-sex marriage in Ireland scheduled later this week, anti-LGBT forces have been hard at work spreading all manner of conspiracy theories and junk science to sway public opinion.
Last week, anti-LGBT Dutch psychologist Gerard van den Aardweg, who has ties to the U.S.-based National Association for the Research and Treatment of Homosexuality (NARTH), addressed an event in Dublin, Ireland to encourage people to vote "no" on same-sex marriage.
The event was organized by the Irish anti-LGBT group, Catholic Alliance for the Defence of the Family and Marriage (ADFAM), which garnered press in February for distributing leaflets that included numerous false claims about homosexuality, including that it causes cancer, that LGBT people are promiscuous and that same-sex couples “don’t even live together.”
Van den Aardweg, no slouch in vitriolic anti-LGBT rhetoric himself, was a member of NARTH’s scientific advisory committee, which promoted pseudoscientific claims about homosexuality in an attempt to stop people from being gay. NARTH rebranded itself in 2014, placing itself under an umbrella it created called the Alliance for Therapeutic Choice and Scientific Integrity (ATCSI), possibly as a rebranding after losing its tax-exempt status in 2012 and as a reaction to the increasing unpopularity of so-called "reparative" or "conversion" therapy to change gay people to straight. NARTH continues to function within the ATCSI as the NARTH Institute, whose position statement includes the claim that clients have a right to treatment and can either adopt a gay identity, or they should be able to seek to "diminish their homosexuality and to develop their heterosexual potential."
Van den Aardweg has maintained ties to NARTH in its various incarnations and currently sits on the board of advisors for the ATCSI's International Federation for Therapeutic Choice, formed to give “greater voice” to therapists, academics, and others outside the U.S. who are members of theATCSI/NARTH Institute. This arm of the ATCSI/NARTH Institute also claims to defend the rights of therapists to treat “unwanted homosexuality” around the world.
Van den Aardweg has a long history of anti-LGBT pseudoscience and theories. His 1985 Homosexuality and Hope included his contentions that “homosexuality is just a kind of neurosis” and LGBT people are victims of their own self-pity who complain compulsively (he dubbed this “auto-psychodrama”), and that in turn can lead to homosexuality. This “condition” can be “cured,” Van den Aardveg claimed, through therapy that advocates humor, or rather, the mocking of one’s inner child.
Van den Aardweg’s book published in 1997, The Battle for Normality: Self-Therapy for Homosexual Persons, is still offered for sale on The NARTH Institute’s website. The book cites four works by the discredited psychologist Paul Cameron, who is an architect of anti-LGBT junk science most frequently used by anti-LGBT groups in the United States.
At the event in Dublin, Van den Aardweg was quoted in the Irish Times saying that wealthy organizations are trying to impose abortion, homosexuality, and freemasonry on the world, “to deal a blow to normal marriage and the family and to this end they use the homosexual movement, the sexual rights movement.” He also claimed that gay relationships are “promiscuous by nature” and that many gay people “were comparable with alcoholics or persons who are addicts.”
In another conspiracy theory, Van den Aardweg claimed that the Nazi Party was “rooted” in homosexuals, a claim popularized by American anti-LGBT activist Scott Lively in his discredited Holocaust revisionist book the Pink Swastika.
Whether Van den Aardweg’s visit will convince Irish people to vote down the referendum remains to be seen. Regardless, anti-LGBT arguments like this continue to circulate here and abroad, seeking relevance they’re fast losing.