ACT Health Minister Meegan Fitzharris has committed to banning the dangerous and discredited practice of “gay conversion” therapy.
“The ACT government will ban gay conversion therapy.
It is abhorrent and completely inconsistent with the inclusive values of Canberrans,” Fitzharris said.
“The ACT Government isn’t aware of these practices being undertaken in the ACT, but we will ensure that they cannot be offered.”
The Canberra Times reported that Fitzharris (pictured, left) recently met with survivor Chris Csabs, who as a teenager participated in a support group at a Canberra church designed to “cure” his homosexuality.
Csabs (pictured, right) started a petition calling on the state and federal governments to ban the therapy, which involves attempting to change or suppress a person’s sexuality or gender identity.
“Trying to ‘pray the gay away’ nearly killed me. I’m not the only one,” he said.
“So-called conversion therapy can cause depression, self-loathing and even suicide. I prayed to God asking him to either heal me, or kill me. I was so depressed, I wanted to die.”
Csabs said he welcomed the ACT government’s commitment to a ban.
“As someone who experienced gay conversion therapy there, it means a lot to know that change is on the way,” he said.
Fairfax Media reported in March that the practice had disappeared underground in Australia and was “hidden in evangelical churches and ministries, taking the form of exorcisms, prayer groups or counselling disguised as pastoral care.”
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt was criticised in April for defending advocates of conversion therapy and calling the practice “freedom of speech”.
Last week, the Victorian government ordered an inquiry into gay conversion therapy, with Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy asking the state’s Health Complaints Commissioner to conduct an investigation.
“We have zero tolerance for anyone purporting to ‘convert’ gay people through any medical or therapeutic means,” Hennessy said.
“Victorians who have been harmed through these rogue groups should contact the Commissioner immediately so these unlawful practices can be stopped and practitioners prosecuted.”
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