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Rachel Maddow Demolishes Therapist Who Claims He Can Make Her Straight

Richard Cohen claims his therapy can turn gay people straight -- an absurd theory debunked by all national psychological associations.

Editor's Note: The following is the transcript of Rachel Maddow's recent interview with controversial "ex-gay" therapist Richard Cohen on MSNBC. It has been edited for length and clarity. You can watch a video of the interview to the right of the screen.

Rachel Maddow: The subject of the interview is the head of a group called the International Healing Foundation, and all reporting on a proposed law to execute people for being gay in Uganda. We turned up evidence of strong links between conservative U.S. politicians who are part of the secretive religious group, The Family, a.k.a. C Street, and people in Uganda who introduced and are pushing the kill-the-gays bill.

But we also turned up more direct connections between the kill-the-gays bill and other American activists. In March, the International Healing Foundation, which is based in Maryland, sent one of its staffers to Uganda to speak to parliament there and to speak at a conference organized by the main promoter of the kill-the-gays bill.

His message was that gay people are gay by choice and a gay person who wants to be straight can be straight. That speech to parliament and the anti-gay conference took place in March of this year.

After the conference in April, the conference organizer arranged for an anti-homosexuality petition to be delivered to the Ugandan parliament. And within a month, on April 29 th, the kill-the-gays bill had been introduced with the anti-gay conference organizer sitting in the gallery for that occasion.

Here is [a clip of] that conference organizer and the lead proponent of the kill-the-gays bill, Stephen Langa, praising the influence and authority of our next guest.

Stephen Langa, Proponent, Kill-the-Gays Bill: Homosexuality is not about sex, but about seeking the love of the father or the mother. OK. It‘s not about sex really. Although sex happens to be in it, but a person really is seeking for the love of the father, love of the mother.

Richard Cohen is one of very authoritative writers who has written on the subject. He himself was a former homosexual. He studied psychology, psychiatry, psychotherapy and used himself as a guinea pig and was able to come out of his homosexuality. And today, he‘s a married man with three children. This is him, “Coming Out Straight.” ... Mr. Cohen is also head of the International Healing Foundation, which purports to be able to turn gay people straight. Mr. Cohen, thank you very much for being with us tonight. I really appreciate your time.

Richard Cohen: Thank you for having me, Rachel.

Maddow: First, let me ask you if I‘ve gotten any facts wrong in anything I just said. I know you haven‘t been happy with our coverage.

Cohen: Well, thank you. I appreciate that. I appreciate this opportunity. You know, Uganda got it wrong, and I‘m sorry to say you did too, Rachel. And I‘m grateful to be here to set the record straight about the misrepresentation of our work.

Since the 1950s, the Uganda government has punished people for engaging in homosexual behavior, so this is not new. We were invited in the spring of this year as you said. We sent Caleb Brundage and he shared his wonderful story of change from homosexual to heterosexual.

And he told them to have compassion, love and understanding for all people who experience homosexual feelings. So we do not believe in this legislation. We had no knowledge of it, and we disavow all relationship to it.

We are promoting loving people, loving all homosexual people, people who choose to live a homosexual life or decide to live that, and those who decide to come out straight like myself and Caleb.

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