Ex-gay movement leader A. Dean Byrd dies

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Dr. A. Dean Byrd, former president of the “ex-gay” National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, died April 4 of leukemia.

A convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Byrd was also on the Evergreen International board of trustees and wrote several articles for Ensign, the church’s magazine. He authored over 100 publications on human sexuality and the ability to change a person’s sexual orientation. He also spoke and testified against adoption rights for gay couples.

Byrd was the foremost proponent of the so-called reparative therapy among Mormons. In a post on the group’s website on his death, NARTH called him, “a true clinical pioneer paving the way for many others in the treatment of unwanted homosexual attractions. He had been a member of the NARTH Board of Directors for more than a decade and made a tremendous contribution to the early work in establishing NARTH as a reliable scientific and research organization.”

NARTH was founded in 1992 to promote psychiatric therapy to treat homosexuality. Although it promotes itself as a professional organization, less than a quarter of its 1,000 members are mental-health professionals. A recent report by the Southern Poverty Law Center described the group as the “main source of anti-gay ‘junk science.’”

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