The president of the Victorian Liberal Party has intervened to shut down a motion calling for parents to be able to access harmful and discredited “gay conversion” therapy for their children.
On Sunday, The Age reported a motion that would have called for health practitioners to be allowed “to offer counselling out of same sex attraction or gender transitioning to patients who request it” had been put forward for discussion at the Victorian Liberal party’s upcoming state council meeting.
The motion, put forward by a Young Liberal branch linked to federal MP Kevin Andrews, also called for state laws to ensure “parents and young people are all given full information about the psychological harms of social, medical and surgical gender transitioning,” according to the report.
Victorian Liberals president Michael Kroger (pictured) told Sky News on Monday he had contacted the Young Liberal branch who had proposed the motion and told them it was “inappropriate” and they had agreed to withdraw it.
Gay federal Liberal MP Trent Zimmerman previously slammed the proposals as “out of touch” with the modern world.
“These are the types of policies you would expect to find in the dark recesses of the 19th century or in the forums of the Australian Conservatives party – not in the modern Liberal Party,” he told Fairfax Media.
“The real debate is whether so-called gay conversion therapy should be regarded as a form of child abuse.”
“Gay conversion” or “ex-gay” therapies have been widely condemned as unethical and dangerous by numerous bodies around the world including the United Nations, the Australian Psychological Society, and peak psychology bodies in the US and the UK.
Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby co-convenor Dale Park said the idea of conselling someone out of same-sex attraction was “deeply harmful”.
“There are numerous examples of people who have been forced to go through conversion therapy and experience significant emotional and psychological harm. People should be supported to feel comfortable with who they are,” Park said.
Jo Hirst from advocacy group Parents of Gender Diverse Children said research had shown that “children do best when their gender is affirmed and supported by their families and community.”
“What we also know from research in this country is that children who are not supported and affirmed are at extreme risk of death by suicide, self harm, homelessness and poor mental health outcomes,” Hirst said.
“With this in mind, it is deeply concerning that any government body or political party would even consider taking such a bold stand against world’s best practice and medical advice. The world over we have seen positive moves away from so-called ‘conversion therapies’.
“In light of this overwhelming body of evidence and advice we are at loss to understand what would motivate such a harmful and potentially damaging resolution.”
Currently Victoria is the only Australian jurisdiction where “gay conversion” therapies are banned from being offered to people under the age of 18.
Last month, an Australia survivor of the practice started a petition calling for the federal government to outlaw the therapies.
“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.”
If you need someone to talk to, help is available from QLife on 1800 184 527 or online at QLife.org.au, Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, Lifeline on 13 11 14, or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.