The Texas Republican Party has endorsed ‘reparative therapy’ for gay people, as other states ban the practice and professional organisations decry it.
Around 7,000 delegates at the Texas Republican Party's convention ratified a new platform that also included moves to the right on other policies including immigration.
US states New Jersey and California ban licensed therapists from conducting conversion therapy on young people, and the new policy is thought to be partly a response to that move. Republicans supporting the policy have said that it is intended to give potential patients the freedom to choose.
The policy won a vote on Thursday and was confirmed in another vote on Saturday.
The counselling has been condemned by health organisations including the American Psychological Association. Defining homosexuality as an illness is an attempt to discredit growing social acceptance, the association has said, and can harm those that undergo it.
The move also received criticism from gay conservative groups within Texas.
“There’s a very, very small group of people who want to keep the party in the past. We were here today to try to pull the party into the future,” Rudy Oeftering, vice president of the gay conservative group Metroplex Republicans, told Associated Press. “The only way the party can go into the future is to start listening to young people, to start listening to people who have gay family members.”
But gay conservative groups received one success, removing an old part of the platform that claimed that “homosexuality tears at the fabric of society.” That move had been opposed by delegates that wanted to preserve it and replace “homosexuality” with “sexual sins”.