Australian medical students take a stand against ‘conversion therapy’


australian medical students association gay conversion therapy amsa
Photo: Australian Medical Students Association

The peak body representing thousands of Australian medical students has backed a ban on harmful so-called “gay conversion therapy”.

In 2018, survivors of the “conversion” movement and allies penned the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Change Efforts (SOGICE) Survivor Statement.

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It calls on Australia to end the “conversion” movement by not only banning it, but also counteracting its influence in schools, mental and public health settings and other areas.

And on the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) last weekend, the Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) threw their support behind it. AMSA is the peak body representing Australia’s 17,000 medical students.

President Daniel Zou said the statement “represents an important set of steps towards stopping the practice of conversion therapy and ensuring adequate support is provided for survivors.”

“Affirmation of this statement shows our continued support for the queer-identifying community,” he said.

“[We also need] strong government actions on issues such as gender conversion therapy.”

The AMSA Queer Project is an initiative promoting LGBTIQ health education in Australian medical schooling to reduce health inequities experienced by queer Australians.

The project’s coordinator Anthony Copeland said advocating against debunked “conversion” practices was a part of that goal.

“AMSA’s unanimous agreement to affirm the statement shows our strong commitment as future medical professionals to prioritise harm prevention across our communities,” he said.

Australian health bodies condemn ‘conversion therapy’

Conversion therapy survivor Chris Csabs, whose Change.org petition for a ban received thousands of signatures, welcomed AMSA’s move.

He said it was especially significant coming from Australia’s “future medical professionals”.

Australia’s peak psychological and health bodies, including the Australian Psychological Society, warn mental health professionals against “conversion” practices.

“There’s no clinical evidence demonstrating that approaches that claim to change a person’s sexual orientation are effective,” the APS says.

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“There is, however, a considerable body of evidence documenting the negative effects of stigma associated with homosexuality, including higher rates of depression.

“The ‘failure’ of such approaches can further contribute to negative mental health outcomes.”

For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.