Martyn Iles, director of the Australian Christian Lobby, has warned “LGBT Conversion Therapy” laws are gaining traction around Australia.
Last week, Queensland became the first state in the country to ban “conversion therapy,” however, its supporters are already saying the legislation doesn’t go far enough.
The Health Legislation Amendment Bill 2019, which was passed by the Queensland parliament on Thursday evening, threaten fines and imprisonment to health practitioners found guilty of attempting to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
The legislation defines conversion therapy as “a treatment or other practice that attempts to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Examples of this include “counselling,” along with “group activities” that aim to change or suppress LGBT feelings.
“Sexual orientation” is defined by the legislation as “the person’s capacity for emotional, affectional and sexual attraction to, and intimate and sexual relations with, persons of a different gender, the same gender or more than 1 gender.”
“Gender identity” is (1) “the person’s internal and individual experience of gender whether or not it corresponds with the sex assigned to the person at birth”; and (2) Without limiting subsection (1) the gender identity of a person includes (a) the person’s personal sense of the body; and (b) if freely chosen–modification of the person’s bodily appearance or functions by medial, surgical or other means; and (c) other expressions of the person’s gender, including name, dress, speech and behaviour.”
Those found guilty of attempting to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity could face a year in prison or up to 18 months in jail if the “victim” is a minor.
“The ban sends a clear message to Queenslanders that conversion therapy is harmful in all contexts,” said Peter Black, president of the Queensland Council for LGBTI Health.
But the Sunshine State isn’t alone. The ACT could pass an “anti-conversion” bill this week that could potentially turn parents, teachers, and pastors, into criminals if they teach the traditional view of sexuality, according to Dan Flynn, spokesman for the ACL.
“The definition of ‘conversion practice’ in the bill is so broad that it will criminalise behaviour far beyond coercive practices,” Flynn said.
“For example, parents who seek to confirm a gender-confused child in their birth sex could face 12 months imprisonment under the bill.”
ACL director Martyn Iles warned the ACT government Bill means:
“A school that is set up with a religious ethos and teaches that there are only two genders, is at risk of being investigated by the ACT Human Rights Commission for conducting conversion therapy practices.
“Parents who counsel their 5-year-old boy that he is a boy, despite the boy saying that he wants to be a girl, could be subject to criminal proceedings.
“A church minister, teaching a biblically orthodox view of sexuality, could be exposed to a conversion practice complaint.
“Plus a wide range of other consequences for parents, families, health practitioners, people of faith, and free speech.
“Those who raise these points are vilified as being in favour of torture, and the ACT Liberal opposition, despite containing several Christians, and several others with similar common sense, are too afraid to fight it, for that reason.
“That’s what’s wrong with these laws.”
Iles went on to say, it’s more important now than ever that we understand this and spread the word.
Last year in California, lawmakers attempted to pass a similar bill banning “conversion therapy” practices in the state. The move was opposed by a number of individuals who formerly identified as LGBTQ, including former-homosexual, Ken Williams, now a pastor in California and co-founder of Equipped to Love.
According to Williams, anti-conversion therapy legislation not only denies his experience, and others like him, but it also removes the rights of others to even question their sexuality.
Williams called the California resolution inaccurate and harmful for a number of reasons. First, it lumps all efforts to change “sexual orientation” into the same demonised category, regardless of how benign and helpful they might be.
Imagine a 12-year-old biological male who, after being sexually assaulted, begins to be plagued with thoughts that he is actually a female.
If California’s therapists and religious organizations follow ACR-99’s directives, the prescribed treatment for that child would be a personal embracing of femininity and would likely include puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, the surgical removal of his penis and testicles, and permanent sterilization.
Should this child not be afforded a right to explore potential causes of his gender confusion and potential pathways that might allow him to reintegrate with his biological/birth sex?
Second, the resolution incorrectly suggests no therapy or help from religious institutions has proven helpful or effective for people desiring to change.
Last year when California proposed bill AB2943 which would have banned therapy from those desiring to leave homosexuality, people came out of the woodwork to oppose it.
And as a result, we know hundreds of people from across the country and around the world who were dramatically helped by religious groups and therapists.
Third, the resolution blames therapists and religious groups alone for high rates of suicide among LGBT people, despite the fact that countless individuals have credited therapists and religious groups for lifting them out of their struggles and easing their suicidal tendencies.
And fourth, the resolution elevates government ideology above an individual’s right to religious freedom.
With this resolution, individuals, leaders, and even therapists and religious institutions are commanded to embrace homosexuality as something to be applauded, giving no thought to potential ramifications to a person’s spouse, children, or to a person whose own religious or personal convictions do not align with that ideology.
Although the Queensland legislation was only passed this week, LGBTQ activists are already complaining it does not go far enough to rid the state of “Conversion Therapy” as it doesn’t cover the use of conversion practices by Christians, pastors and ministries.
The term “Conversion Therapy” is now pejoratively used to discredit anyone who attempts to help people with unwanted LGBTQ feelings. The label is used to conjure up images of extreme medical quackery, such as electroshock, ‘corrective’ rape, and aversion techniques practised only by medics before being abandoned decades ago.
The ultimate push is to prohibit parents, pastors and religious leaders from calling people to repentance from “sexual immorality” as defined by the Bible. In their view, moral judgments, particularly as they relate to sexuality, should now be determined and imposed by the State, not God.