News Item

WA: Response to false media reports

In light of a number of false media reports claiming that the Australian Christian Lobby and a former gay activist, James Parker are taking a ‘gay conversion therapy road show’ around the state, I thought it best to set the record straight.

Curiously, to my knowledge, not one of the authors of the various media reports have sat through an entire presentation.

I believe there is universal agreement between ACL, James Parker, and various community and professional medical bodies that no one should be coerced or pressured into changing their sexual orientation or gender Identity (SOGI). Our presentations have never advocated such practices.

The reason for running these events is to create public awareness about the implications of the Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Act 2021 for individuals and faith communities who hold to a traditional understanding of human sexuality.

We are seeking to raise public awareness of this legislation for three reasons:

  1. To make people aware of their obligations under the provisions of the Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Act 2021, when dealing with a visiting Victorian or when interacting online.
  2. To alert the public that LGBTQ+ activists are publicly lobbying the McGowan government to introduce legislation similar to that passed in Victoria.
  3. To motivate and equip our supporters to engage in public debate on the issue of ‘conversion therapy’ that will inevitably occur when the McGowan government proceeds to honour its commitment to introduce ‘gay conversion’ laws.

Our events usually begin with me explaining the provisions of the Victorian Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Act 2021. I highlight why the AMA, various professional bodies of psychologists and psychiatrists along with the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Alliance voiced serious concerns about certain sections of this legislation.

I also draw attention to the extra territorial clause as it has serious implications for anyone in WA who holds to a traditional understanding of human sexuality and who might converse with a person who normally resides in Victoria.

After my presentation, James Parker tells of his lived experience. Then various other people (depending on their availability) share their life journey of how they reached rock bottom mental health wise and were most unhappy in their LGBTQ identity and how they longed for something better. They share what helped them on their journey to better mental health and for some it meant de-transitioning to their biological gender, and for some it resulted in their same sex attraction waning, to the point that they feel comfortable being in a heterosexual relationship.

Those who share their stories speak of their concern that those professionals and friends who assisted them on their journey to renewed well-being would be criminalised under the Victorian legislation. Their concerns are not unfounded.

The AMA and various other professional bodies of psychologists and psychiatrists opposed sections of the legislation on the grounds that the definitions of conversion practices are too wide, and result in their professions no longer being able or willing to provide legitimate help to persons struggling with gender or sexual orientation issues, for fear of prosecution.

The Victorian legislation is based on a demonstrably false foundation, namely that it is impossible for people to change their sexual orientation or gender identity. Yet the Safe Schools program teaches children in our schools that gender is fluid (which means it can run in both directions) and that a person’s sexuality is on a spectrum between entirely heterosexual and homosexual and can change over time.

The numerous people who once identified as LGBTQ and now no longer identify as such, are testimony to the fact that people can and do change their SOGI.

The social science literature also shows that change is possible. The Journal of Homosexuality recently published a paper in which researchers interviewed 237 people who had moved from their non-biological gender back to identifying with their biological gender. Their objective was to see what kinds of services de-transitioners found helpful and what gaps exist in services for such people.

In summary, the presentations which the media have been falsely portraying as ‘gay conversion road shows’ are simply advocating that legislation to address so called gay conversion therapy should be limited to non-consensual, coercive practices.

It is our view that any such legislation must not infringe on the rights of persons who experience unwanted same sex attraction or gender dysphoria, to access services that support them in their quest for the sexual orientation or gender identity that they desire.

Likewise, any legislation must allow parents of gender dysphoric children the right to choose the ‘wait and see’ or pursue counselling/psychotherapy treatment options for their child.

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