Categories
Gender/ sexuality LGBTQ rights

Queensland becomes the first Australian state to ban conversion therapy

Bible held by rainbpw - coloured hand with cross in a rainbow - coloured background
Image: iStock

 

CW: LGBTQ conversion therapy. This content may be distressing to some readers

Last week,  Queensland has made a historical leap  and introduced laws against LGBTQ+ conversion practices.

It will be illegal for health professionals to suggest ‘therapy’ to change a patient’s sexuality or gender identity.

Medical practitioners suggesting or performing the practice can face up to eighteen months in jail.

Criticisms of the Bill

The bill has been criticised from both ends of the political spectrum. Of course, there is ‘concern’ about how it will affect the counselling of trans and gender diverse children – pushing the idea that children are forced to take hormones and surgery prematurely.

Other critics say that the bill doesn’t go far enough Anti – conversion therapy advocate, Chris Csabs expressed disappointment that only the medical community was targeted in the bill.

Csabs claimed that 90% of conversion victims have experienced the practice in non – medical settings.

It makes sense. All major medical and psychological bodies worldwide reject the notion that sexual orientation and gender identity can be ‘fixed’. The American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1973.

Since then, conversion therapy has been condemned for LGB+ and trans youth.

Should conversion practices be illegal for religious communities?

The only context that ‘conversion therapy’ most likely happens is within religious groups. While churches like Hillsong has shied away from conversion practices  years ago, other organisations probably still do it.

There are most likely young LGBTQ+ people still at risk of being subjected to the harmful practice. Should this also be outlawed? Ideally, yes. But do you run the risk of pushing it underground? What if that makes the practice even more dangerous? What if physical abuse becomes apart of the ‘therapy’?

 

Ultimately, conversion therapy will only become a thing of the past when people realise that LGBTQ+ people can’t change. And that they shouldn’t have to. Conversion therapy will only become a thing of the past when LGBTQ+ people are welcomed and included in all aspects of society. That’s up to religious groups, families, schools and the medical communities.

 

Update

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) has also seen a bill to outlaw conversion therapy.

The Sexuality and Gender  Conversion Practices Bill is targeted at not just medical practitioners, but also parents who push their children into it.

The bill differentiates between conversion therapy and counselling aimed at gender diverse youth before medical transition. The Bill allows the latter.

 

Another update

The ACT’s Sexuality and Gender Conversion Practices Bill has been passed. Vagueness has been cleared up.

Religious groups have also been assured that they won’t be penalised because of their views on sexuality or gender identity.

Let’s hope it works and that people will realise that LGBTQ+ people are who they are and can’t change that aspect of their identity. It’s honestly the only way that conversion practices will finally become a thing of the past.

If this post has raised any issues for you, you can contact Lifeline: 13 11 14

Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636 

For people under 25, there is also Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800.

Categories
Media

Is ‘de – transition’ the new ex – gay?

Transgender sign
Image: iStock

Lately, there has been a number of ‘transition regret’ stories in both Australian and international media.

On Sunday, Sky News Australia’s/ Win’s Outsiders had Walter Heyer on, a man who claimed identified as trans, but then wanted to transition back to male. The hosts of Outsiders and Andrew Bolt have really lapped up Heyer’s story and others like it.

Other media outlets, including Christian Concern, Daily Telegraph and USA Today have all published stories on people who apparently regret their transition and have worked to get their original sex back.

Is this the new ‘ex – gay’ movement

Are there some people who originally identify as trans, then realise they’re actually cis – gender? Maybe.

Let me clear, if someone originally identifies as trans and then realise they’re not, then that’s fine.

However, what I’m hearing and reading does concern me. I fear that the de -transitioning movement that will force trans/ gender non – conforming people to be something they’re not.

I can hear elements of ‘conversion therapy‘ language in these ‘testimonies’. Using early childhood (usually sexual) trauma as the reason for a person’s identity was very common at the height of the ex – gay movement.

Deliberate misuse of terms and using, frankly, unlikely stories have been used in the ex – gay and de – transitioning movements. For example, gender dysphoria (which is what many transgender people go through) and disassociate identity disorder (DID) have been conflated.

One unlikely story I’ve heard is a de – transitioned’ man who ‘felt’ he was a trans – woman after his wife died. He ‘felt’ that way in order to be closer to her. While some may realise they’re trans or gender non conforming later in life, I think that’ll be the exception, rather than the rule.

According to Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital, children begin expressing their gender between two and three. Even transgender people that I’ve heard about who have transitioned much older realised their gender identity as children, not after becoming widowed.

Even if some of these stories about de – transitioning do turn out to be true, I don’t want these stories to be used to give false hope to young people who are questioning their gender or do know they are trans. I don’t want them to be left feeling they should change how they feel, then fail and feel hopeless.. As seen in conversion therapy, this cycle only exacerbates the high suicide rates of LGBTQ+ people.

What the media needs to do

I believe the media has a major responsibility in this. Misreporting and fear mongering about transgender/ gender non – conforming people needs to stop.

De – transition stories need to be told with caution. They should not be used to pressure transpeople to be someone they know they’re not. I’m not exaggerating when I say lives are at stake.

LGBTQ+ people do not need more discrimination. They don’t need more misrepresentation. And they certainly don’t need to be told that who they are is wrong and needs to change. Too many lives have been destroyed.

What do you think about the wave of ‘transition regret’ stories in the media? Helpful or harmful? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Categories
Opinion/Commentary

Herald Sun opinion piece exposes harm of conversion therapy

 

 

I’ll be blunt. Sometimes, I’m critical of Newscorp media, especially some of its commentators. I wonder why I’m a Herald Sun subscriber or watch Sky News Australia at all. During 2017 same – sex marriage debate, I found Newscorp media particularly unbearable to watch or read.

They also made some bad calls. I thought Sky News Australia’s decision to feature former United Patriot Front leader, Blair Cottrell was stupid. Surely they knew his record! After the backlash and the threat of a commercial boycott, the management vowed to never whave Cottrell on Sky News Australia again.

Herald Sun opinion exposes the harms of conversion therapy

Despite all my criticisms, the Herald Sun did something that I thought was good. On the 3 April 2019, they published an opinion piece from Chris Csabs, an outspoken opponent of conversion ‘therapy’. Csabs has appeared in the SBS series, Christians Like Us.

Csabs is candid and quite detailed in his account. He realised he was gay at thirteen and came out to his pastor at sixteen. He went to regular worship and prayer sessions and was told faulty beliefs about sexuality (that he and other attendees were gay because they weren’t breastfed, etc).

 

Like so many LGBTQ+ Christians, Csabs went through shame and suffered emotionally because he couldn’t change his sexuality.

Csabs was isolated. Leaders told Csabs to abandon his friends from Sydney to avoid ’temptation’.

After exiting Living Waters, Csabs got involved in other ministries and tried other sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE). Needless to say, none of them worked.

The aftermath

Csabs claimed that he tried to ‘starve’ his sexuality. This made him have thoughts of castration and affected his relationships with other men. He became paranoid about seeing any men he may deem attractive, including on TV.

Csabs is in the process of learning to accept himself as a gay man and work on his relationship with God.

What people should know

Chris Csabs’ story should make it clear; LGBTQ+ people can’t stop being LGBTQ+. Any pressure on LGBTQ+ Christians to change who they are is nothing short of emotional and spiritual abuse. Conversion therapy doesn’t win people over to God, but rather keeps them distant from Him.

 

A note to Newscorp opinion writers: I hope this has given you an insight into what a number of LGBTQ+ people in Australia go through. Hopefully, it puts Israel Folau’s recent comments in context.

 

Please speak out against conversion therapies. Fight against the Australian Christian Lobby who repeatedly push conversion therapy on minors. We need to spread a strong message that abuse towards LGBTQ+ people will not be tolerated. Nobody should be shamed for who they are.

If this post has brought up any issues for you, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636. Information about LGBTQ+ mental health can also be found here.

For emergencies call your national crisis number (for Australians: 000. U.S: 911 and UK: 999).

If anyone knows of any other contacts or you want to share your own experiences of faith and sexuality, please leave them in the comments below.

 

 

 

Categories
News

Australian Christian Lobby pushes for conversion therapy… again.

Screenshot of article: This Christian Lobby group is fighting a proposal to ban gay conversion therapy

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.

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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.