Conversion therapy still happens in Australia

Buzzfeed exposed ex gay or “conversion therapy” still being practised in Australia. This is despite the practice being condemned by all the major health bodies around the world, including the Australian Medical Association (AMA).

Fortunately, some States, including Victoria have started to clamp down on the unscientific practice. Health services will have a complaints commission. They will have greater powers to investigate any suspect health professionals. Anyone will be able to lodge a complaint, not just a client.

However, the article exposes an underground where the practice takes place and is fairly widespread, especially in evangelical Pentecostal circles. Buzzfeed Oz Politics posted a video on their Facebook page where an Australian Christian Lobby member refused to condemn ex – gay therapy during a debate concerning the “Marriage Amendment (Same – sex Marriage) Bill.

I actually find this infuriating. I’m furious that some Christians are so hell – bent (no pun intended), to hold on to their theology that they are willing to cause damage to someone’s life as  a result. I’m more furious that a major political force, the Australian Christian Lobby, refuses to condemn the debunked and unethical practice, which is shown to cause unimaginable pain and suffering to many LGBTQ+ people and their friends and families around the world. Regardless of what you think about same – sex relationships, no one has the right to destroy someone’s life. Ever. I’m going to put it very bluntly and this may offend some people. Those who continually insist on conversion therapy have blood on their hands. The Human Rights Campaign in the U.S. mentions the harmful effects of such “therapy” including depression, alcohol and drug abuse and suicide. Live Science has also highlighted how harmful the so – called “therapy” is.

I get that people want to hold on to their beliefs and some people have genuine beliefs about whether same – sex relationships are moral. Some still hold the view that it isn’t. What I can’t believe is that people still insist that LGBTQ people change their orientation or gender identity when all evidence suggests that it doesn’t work. I can’ t believe how the Australian Government can watch idly as this goes on.

The U.S. is slowly clamping down on the practice, with New Jersey being the first state to ban the “therapy” for minors. Could it ever be outlawed outright? Even survivors of “ex gay therapy”, such as Samuel Brinton admitted that legally, there is a limit that should be done as to not clamp on people’s freedom of choice and beliefs if they are over eighteen. (Watch his speech at Google  on YouTube. For some reason I can’t embed it here. Sorry about that).

I’ll add to that sentiment. Laws, regardless of how strict they are, can only do so much. It’s the culture in some organisations that needs to change. There needs to be a belief that LGBTQ+ have enough value to have a right to dignity and well – being. There needs to be a willingness for people to drop the stereotypes and caricatures that have given people licence to dehumanise and harm the LGBTQ+ community for so long. We need to change thinking on gender and sexuality. Organisations need to be willing to treat people in a way that protects their mental health and overall well – being, rather than use power to abuse people spiritually and psychologically.

Some people may have found this post hard to read. It was hard for me to write. Frankly, I was initially reluctant to write it. But I felt like I can’t let this go on and not say something. Too many lives have already been damaged or destroyed by this. I can’t let another life be ruined without speaking up.



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By Sara Harnetty

I'm a student. Interested in current events, music and various issues.

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