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
News Opinion/Commentary

Abuse towards Dr. Pansy Lai is deplorable, however her views on ex – gay therapy are worrying

Dr. Pansy Lai on news.com.au website with allegations of supporting ex - gay therapy
News.com.au alleged doctor in anti same – sex marriage advertisement has supported ex – gay therapy.

Let me make this clear — the abuse suffered by Sydney’s Dr. Pansy Lai — some threats have been so serious that police have been involved — is inexcusable. To be quite frank, some in the ‘Yes’ campaign have been absolutely feral. Stop it!

Having said that, allegations, printed in news.com.au that Dr. Lai and the Australian Chinese for Families supports ex – gay ‘therapy’ concern me. She’s denies pushing ex – gay ‘therapy’ onto patients, but claims that there is no harm in the practice. This goes against mainstream medical opinion in the Western world.

I’m not calling for Dr. Lai to be sacked. I just hope her views don’t affect her practice.

To those who dismiss this and say that if you had a sore foot, would you care what her views were; GPs deal with mental health, too. Personally, when I was younger, a GP prescribed anti – depressants and organised for me to go to a counsellor after diagnosing me with mild depression

Secondly, I’ve been to counsellors in regard to issues with sexuality. This was after weeks —  maybe months — of fear and self – hatred. If I found out that the counsellors, Student Advisor (I was at school at the time), or other staff were prejudiced against LGBTQ+ people, I would have just hated myself even more and woudn’t have trusted the staff enough to open up. Just the fear of what could happen was bad enough (the fear wasn’t confirmed, by the way. They were all really good).

I’ll be frank, if I knew that my doctor had prejudices against LGBTQ+ people and/ or they supported ex – gay ‘therapy’, I wouldn’t trust them with my health, period. I would want someone who didn’t adhere to proven and accepted medical practice.

 

For those who still dismiss my critique and say that it doesn’t matter, how would you feel if your doctor had personal beliefs about vaccination that went against mainstream medical knowledge? If your brought a child to this doctor, even for other reasons, would you trust him/ her? I’ve got a feeling many wouldn’t. I feel that way about any medical professional who spreads misinformation about LGBTQ+ people. It’s happened for too long. I can’t tell you how many YouTube videos I’ve watched and how many stories I’ve read online about LGBTQ+ people who’ve gone through ex – gay ‘therapy’. They’re lives were nearly destroyed, until they accepted their sexuality.

Again, I condemn the abuse towards Dr. Lai, especially when police had to involved. I won’t even say that she should be deregistered. What I do think should happen is that maybe there needs to be an overall evaluation of the medical profession to make sure that GPs, psychologists, psychiatrists, etc, don’t have  any harmful beliefs about LGBTQ+ people that is going to turn into harmful practice. LGBTQ+ people deserve proper health care like everyone else.

Has this post brought up any issues for you? You can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beond Blue: 1300 224 636.

Categories
Opinion/Commentary

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.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FBuzzFeedOzPol%2Fvideos%2F395422660793463%2F&show_text=0&width=560

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.