Liberal backbencher Lara Alexander is planning to host a Free Speech Alliance event this week in defence of conversion therapy.
Earlier this year, LGBTQI+ advocates pushed for a ban on harmful conversion therapy practices in Tasmania, which was backed by Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff.
This push followed the release of the Tasmania Law Reform Institute’s (TLRI) Final Report addressing the risks and harms caused by sexual orientation and gender identity conversion practices.
The report offered 16 recommendations for law reforms to prevent the practice.
“I understand how much it has affected individuals to the detriment of their wellbeing, to put it mildly,” Mr Rockliff said.
The large majority of Tasmanian MPs were welcoming of Rockliff’s support of the ban.
Some, however, were not so happy.
The Australian Christian Lobby have been urging people to voice their opposition to the “radical and oppressive recommendations in the TLRI Report”.
Lara Alexander, former CEO of St Vincent de Paul Tasmania, voiced her support of this pushback.
She will be hosting a Free Speech Alliance forum in Parliament House titled Conversion therapy laws – risks and harms?
Alexander allegedly agreed to host the event because of her “commitment to free speech,” claiming that she would never “support involuntary gay conversion therapy”.
“It’s been put out there in the media that this forum is about promoting conversion therapy or having some bigoted discussions… for me, it’s all about free speech,” she said.
Despite backing the initial ban, the Liberal Premier has voiced his support for Alexander’s decision to host the forum.
Leader of Greens Tasmania, Cassy O’Connor, challenged Premier Jeremy Rockliff over this support for Ms Alexander.
The forum, O’Connor argued, “clearly supports dangerous, unscientific conversion therapy,” and “has the potential to cause harm to transgender Tasmanians.”
Premier Rockliff affirmed this, saying that while he didn’t support conversion therapy, he said he wouldn’t “muzzle free speech”.
Not a tough pill to swallow
Perhaps the hardest reality for Alexander, the Free Speech Alliance and the Australian Christian Lobby to face, is that their point is moot.
The research is conclusive, it has been for over a decade – conversion therapy is scientifically ineffective.
It has only ever worked to destabilise and harm queer youth. So why even platform a discussion about it?
Any parent actually concerned for the wellbeing of their child wouldn’t neglect the unanimous disagreement of almost all medical professionals.
The political ploy of fear-mongering in the name of ‘free speech’ is a tale as old as time.
It is also one that has become increasingly transparent.
In platforming such a redundant and antiquated forum, Lara Alexander has effectively defined her political agenda.
Her political interests, it seems, are not in protecting youth or free-speech.
Evidently, it is to galvanize queer identities through the politics of fear.
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