According to Buzzfeed News, the Australian Christian Lobby is defending conversion therapy,.. again. Last year, former ACL leader, Lyle Shelton came under fire for suggesting that parents should be able to take their children to receive conversion or ‘reparative’ therapy for their LGBTQ children.
I’m going to be blunt about this. People can’t claim ignorance anymore. Conversion therapy is condemned by mainstream medical bodies both here and overseas, including the Australian Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association and American Psychological Association. Not only do they say that conversion therapy doesn’t work, but it can exacerbate mental health problemsand increase suicidality among LGBTQ people.
To me, this exposes the real hatred that ACL have toward the LGBTQ community. That’s right: I said ‘hatred’. I’m sorry, but they keep on pushing this harmful ideology, despite warnings, despite evidence and public backlash. None of them can claim that they ‘love’ LGBTQ people. No, they hate them. And their hatred has proven to be harmful. They don’t care for LGBTQ children, or children suspected of being LGBTQ. They want to harm them.
By the way, the Australian Christian Lobby is not alone in their hatred and wanting to harm the LGBTQ community. A few months ago, there was an ‘ex – gay’ pride march in Washington. This was headed by anti – LGBTQ campaigner, Elizabeth Johnston (also known as Activist Mommy). The Activist Mommy Facebook page is full of anti – LGBTQ and anti – liberal hysteria – that LGBTQ people are out to indoctrinate children, etc, etc. The ACL claimed the same last year during the same – sex marriage debate. I believe that this has two main purposes one, to hide what they really think (i.e. they hate LGBTQ people) and two, to link LGBTQ people to paedophilia. This is why, I believe, the “No campaigners in the same – sex marriage debate focused on Safe Schools, saying that it was a ‘radical LGBTI sex ed program’, despite denials from supporters and the Department of Education and Training (and I’ve glanced through the main resource, All of Us a number of times, and I saw nothing about sex or masturbation. Nothing).
When Exodus International closed in 2013, president, Alan Chambers admitted that conversion therapy didn’t work and was forced to confront the damage that it caused by coming face to face with survivors.
After Exodus International distanced themselves from conversion therapy, the next narrative that conservative Christians tried to push was celibacy. This was quickly criticised by a number of Christians (supported by others, like blogger Wesley Hill). Chambers himself could see parallels between the gay celibacy movement and his former work with Exodus International. For a while, I wasn’t against the ‘gay celibacy’movement. At least it wasn’t conversion therapy. But now, frankly, I get the criticism. It’s still treating LGBTQ+ people as lesser than. It put emphasis on what LGBTQ+ people (supposedly) do It reduced them to lesser than human and that a part of them can (still) be denied. (That’s why I don’t like the term ‘ same – sex attracted’ when referring to LGB+ people, to be honest).
So, where to from here? I think it’s good that Washing DC and certain States in the US are have banned conversion therapy for minors. The UK has done the same thing, with a bill passed last Tuesday (Britain time). I think that conversion therapy is banned for minors and any licensed medical professional should run the risk of having their license revoked if they are known for promoting or performing conversion therapy. I don’t see any difference between that and disgraced British surgeon, Andrew Wakefield trying to link the MMR vaccine to autism in 1998. Both claims are condemned by mainstream medical bodies, so why can’t practitioners who push either idea on patients get the same treatment?
There is more good news. More and more organisations and churches are rejecting the idea that LGBTQ+ people are broken need to be fixed. Christians have even publicly apologised for the mistreatment of LGBTQ+ people by the church. Last year, a number of evangelical and former evangelical Christians formed Equal Voices and offered a statement and letter offering a sincere apology to the LGBTQ+ community for the mistreatment they’ve received. In Marikina City, Philippines, some Christians marched in a Pride parade, offering their apology to the Filipino LGBTQ+ community. This is significant. According to Centre for Global Education, 86% of Filipinos are Roman Catholic and a further 6% identify as another Christian denomination.
Like with the same – sex marriage debate last year, I’m both optimistic and cautious. I think, and I hope that we will keep moving in the right direction in treating LGBTQ+ people with dignity and respect and that old wounds, and relationships between Christians and the LGBTQ+ community can be completely healed.