Daniel Andrews plans to ban gay conversion therapy
Would love to hear a response from you regarding Daniel Andrews plans to ban gay conversion therapy. Does it even happen today? Daryl T
Thanks for this very relevant question Daryl. To establish if gay conversion therapy happens I thought I should first establish what – exactly – it is.
According to the recent report written by La Trobe University:
“Conversion therapy is an umbrella term used to describe attempts to ‘convert’ people from diverse sexual and gender identities to an exclusively heterosexual and cisgender identity. ….
“As with similar groups around the world, Australian proponents of religious conversion therapy started out with great optimism that lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people could, with faith and effort, become straight and cisgendered”. (1)
As an ‘umbrella term’ this leaves the actual definition of conversion therapy (also referred to as religious conversion therapy) to cover anything which a person subjectively defines as such. It includes what I believe we would all agree to be harmful practices of locking a woman with same-sex attraction in a mental institution and giving them shock treatments (which happened historically – I have not heard of this happening now. If anyone has heard of this happening in the last few years, I would be interested to hear from them). But it may also include a man with same-sex attraction speaking to a prayer team after a church service and asking for prayer because they are struggling with their attraction to another man.
Banning this subjectively-defined conversion therapy has dangerous implications for our religious freedoms and will raise a lot of concerns, especially for larger congregations – how will they know that someone asking for prayer or requesting counselling is not setting them up?
This potentially will also make it more difficult for Christians with same-sex attraction to receive spiritual guidance. Will we see a situation where someone having multiple affairs will be more likely to receive help from their church than a celibate lesbian? Will we see some churches reaffirming some identities – gay, lesbian, even transgender – but not others – polygamists, polyamorists, etc – just so that they comply with the state’s new rules?
Depending on what the legislation says, we could see a clear overstep between church and state where the state dictates what is acceptable to preach and practice within our churches.
Let me be very clear – there is no excuse for abuse within the church. I acknowledge and condemn past abusive practice.
I also believe that these past transgressions should not leave churches in a state of constant apology or in a situation where the doctrines they preach and believe in are compromised at best, dictated at worst.
The Victorian ALP have committed to introducing legislation to ban gay conversion therapy early in their term. Wherever possible we need to be influencing this legislation to ensure that the worst-case-scenario of state interference in our churches does not eventuate.
I also note here that David Davis, the leader of the very-diminished-opposition Liberal party in the upper house and shadow minister for equality has already been quoted as being supportive ‘in principle’ to the move but waiting to see details of the legislation.
So, does it happen? If broadly defined as per La Trobe’s description, then yes I can’t deny that many of our churches are practicing conversion – ie, praying with, counselling, supporting and teaching according to their stated beliefs.
Our churches need to be aware of the threats they are facing from this legislation (which is in its consultation phase), they need to be bold in presenting their case, and they need to fight this.
(1) You can read this report in full: “Preventing Harm, Promoting Justice: Responding to LGBT conversion therapy in Australia” online at https://static1.squarespace.com/static/580025f66b8f5b2dabbe4291/t/5bd78764eef1a1ba57990efe/1540851637658/LGBT+conversion+therapy+in+Australia+v2.pdf
For those of you confused about the term cisgender – it simply means a person who identifies with their birth sex – eg. I’m a woman who identifies as a woman who was born female, so I am cisgender.