On Jan. 31, popular nighttime newsmagazine Aquí y Ahora featured a severely unbalanced segment on so-called “ex-gay” conversion therapies.
Watch the segment now:
The segment essentially applauded a man who claimed he “successfully became straight,” and interviewed at length a so-called expert therapist who was allowed to make false claims about success in changing sexual orientation. Although sparked by reports of hundreds of clinics in Ecuador that attempted to change their victims’ orientation, sometimes with torture tactics, the show neglected to appropriately include victims of “conversion therapies.” The segment also neglected to report that organizations like Exodus are often not licensed and have been discredited by major mainstream psychological associations.
The American Psychiatric Association states that “The potential risks of ‘reparative therapy’ are great, including depression, anxiety and self destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient” (from its position statement on Psychiatric Treatment and Sexual Orientation). The Ecuadorian government has discredited and declared illegal these so-called treatments, and has affirmed its commitment to investigate any centers that offer them.
At the end of the segment, the host asked viewers to weigh in on “nature vs. nurture” debate, asking if viewers thought people are born gay or become gay. Ricky Martin tweeted quickly that we are born gay, then wrote, in Spanish, “El heterosexual nace o se hace?” essentially asking if being straight is a choice.
@MariaESalinas Se nace. El heterosexual nace o se hace? ;0)— Ricky Martin (@ricky_martin) February 1, 2012
The repercussions of this piece started coming quickly. The following day, on Univision’s highly-rated entertainment show El Gordo y la Flaca, the hosts discussed the segment and treated the subject matter dismissively and disrespectfully, also focusing on the question of nature vs. nurture.
Aquí y Ahora normally handles LGBT issues with fairness, and in fact has been nominated for many GLAAD Media Awards. But in this case, their reporting missed the mark and they failed LGBT viewers and their families and friends.
The program in 2010 had approximately 3.2 million total viewers. Comparatively, the English-language newsmagazine “Nightline,” averaged 3.7 million viewers in 2010.
GLAAD has reached out to Aquí y Ahora to apologize and commit to doing a segment that provides the balance sorely lacking in the recent segment and that explains the harm done by so-called “reparative therapies.” Univision responded that they have taken careful note of GLAAD's concerns and will respond next week.