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‘Pray Away’: new Netflix documentary exploring the impact of conversion therapy

by Premier Journalist

A new documentary that brings together the experiences of people who went through conversion therapy in the US in the 1990s and early 2000s is now available to watch on Netflix.

‘Pray Away’ mainly focuses on the work of Exodus International, a Christian organisation that sought to “help people who wished to limit their homosexual desires” that was dismantled by its leader, Alan Chambers in 2013 after he said conversion therapy was harmful.

He later apologised for all “the pain and hurt” caused.

Although there is not a clear definition of conversion therapy, it is understood to cover a wide range of practices to change or suppress someone's sexuality or gender identity.  

The director of the documentary, Kristine Stolakis told media outlet NPR, conversion therapy was a personal story for her.

“My uncle, who was very dear to me, went through conversion therapy when he came out as trans as a child,” Stolakis said.

“He never fully accepted himself. He was celibate his entire life. He also suffered from tremendous mental health challenges, from depression, anxiety, addiction, to obsessive-compulsive disorder, to suicidal ideations.”

Currently, conversion therapy is banned in 20 US states. In the UK, the government has committed to ban all forms of conversion therapy but there’s division among Christians as to which practices are considered part of conversion therapy.

While all agree some practices are abhorrent, such as forced fasting or abuse, some Christians fear praying for someone who is willingly seeking pastoral support could be criminalised.

Earlier this year, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “I do not want to see clergy and church members criminalised for normal non-coercive activity."

Conversion therapy will be banned in England and Wales after a public consultation takes place in September.

The documentary is now available to stream on Netflix.

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