ACL director defends ‘gay conversion’ therapy


Australian Christian Lobby director Martyn Iles

The Australian Christian Lobby’s Martyn Iles describes a ban on so-called ‘gay conversion’ therapy as ‘totalitarian’. Indeed, the ACL director says parents should be able to ‘counsel’ children out of being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

“[‘LGBTI conversion therapy’] is an Orwellian phrase. It evokes images of electric shock treatments, bizarre rituals, and abuse.”

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Iles wrote in response to a draft policy from the federal Labor party. The party will debate the policy at their upcoming national conference. The policy states the party “opposes the practice of so-called conversion and reparative therapies on LGBTIQ+ people and seek[s] to criminalise these practices.”

Iles wrote, “The policy statement begins by saying that mere claims about the possibility of a changed gender identity or sexual orientation are false, harmful, and should not continue to be made.

Iles used the example of a boy playing with a Barbie doll. He claimed the policy would require school staff to ask the child to consider if he is transgender. If a teenage girl thought her “14-year-old best buddy was actually her lesbian girlfriend” parents couldn’t seek counselling for her.

Children removed from Christian families

The ACL director went on to say that such a policy would lead to the removal of children from Christian families.

“Christian parents will become criminals and psychological and domestic abusers.”

Iles said the ACL will soon launch a campaign against policies seeking to ban gay conversion therapy.

Numerous bodies across the globe condemn ‘gay conversion’ therapies. They include the United Nations, the Australian Psychological Society, and peak psychology bodies in the US and the UK.

But Fairfax Media reported in April that while the practice was less common, it had not disappeared and was underground in Australia “hidden in evangelical churches and ministries, taking the form of exorcisms, prayer groups or counselling disguised as pastoral care.”

Homosexuality does not require ‘cure’

Despite opposition, Labor’s shadow health minister Catherine King described conversion therapy to BuzzFeed News as thoroughly discredited.

“Homosexuality is not some kind of disorder that requires a cure.

“The Australian Christian Lobby’s claim that Labor’s stance is somehow ‘totalitarian’ is patent nonsense.

“Their scaremongering on this issue has no more credibility than their failed campaign against same-sex marriage.”

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Canberra man Chris endured dangerous therapy as a teenager from a now-defunct provider. In March, he launched a petition calling on the federal health minister to enact a nationwide ban on the practice. The petition now has close to 41,000 signatures.

Pray the gay away

“Trying to ‘pray the gay away’ nearly killed me. I’m not the only one.

“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.”

Previously, a spokesperson for Mr Hunt said that a ban on the practice came under the jurisdiction of the states. However, the health minister also told the ABC in a combative interview that while he personally opposed such therapies, people should be free to debate them.

Greens senator Janet Rice, who shared Chris’ story in parliament last week, said LGBTIQ young people already suffer worse mental health than heterosexual young people and do not need to be “converted”.

“LGBTIQ young people should receive support and understanding, rather than… vicious programs that use shame and fear as ‘conversion’ tactics in the name of religion.”

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