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'Ex-Gay' Non-Profit and Arizona Governor Are Victims of Internet Hoax Story with Made-Up Anti-Gay Quotes

Contact: Rich Wyler, People Can Change, 434-227-9346

BARBOURSVILLE, Va., Aug. 23, 2013 /Christian Newswire/ -- Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and the Virginia-based non-profit organization People Can Change, which offers peer support for men with unwanted homosexual attractions, have been victims of an Internet hoax that has enraged thousands of people over a false, anti-gay news report.

The satirical Website nationalreport.net issued a fake "news" story Wednesday evening alleging that Brewer had supposedly approved a "gay-to-straight conversion program" for Arizona public schools. National Report's own disclaimer read at the time, "All news articles contained within National Report are fiction.... Any resemblance to the truth is purely coincidental."

Several Websites and legitimate online news organizations, including the Urban Legends site, have declared the story a hoax that has apparently gone viral and in the process fooled large numbers of Internet users. According to the New York Daily News, the hoax article has already been shared more than 200,000 times on Facebook. A spokesman for the governor called the story "completely phony and vile," according to the Daily News.

Rich Wyler, the actual founder and director of People Can Change, said, "Yes, People Can Change is a real organization, and yes, we offer support for men who are conflicted over homosexual feelings. But that is where the truth in the hoax story ends.

"The fake story was apparently intended to embarrass Governor Brewer and People Can Change, and to encourage people to verbally assault our organization and our members," Wyler said. Within 24 hours, People Can Change was inundated with more than 150 hate emails and phone calls, many using extreme profanity and threats against the organization and its members, he said.

"We have no programs for school children," Wyler said. "We never try to convince anyone to try to change who is happy being gay. We only support men who are intrinsically self-motivated to pursue change. And as far as I know, before yesterday Governor Brewer had never even heard of People Can Change."

But the worst parts of the hoax story, Wyler said, are the demeaning, vicious quotes about gays that the National Report made up and falsely attributed to People Can Change, Governor Brewer and a county sheriff.

"The made-up quotes are vicious and hateful," Wyler said. "People Can Change believes in showing compassion and respect for all who deal with or have ever dealt with homosexuality, however they may choose to address it in their lives."

For more information, visit www.peoplecanchange.com.