In his maiden speech to the South Australian Legislative Council on April 4 2021, the young Greens member Robert Simms made a series of radical statements which ought to signal to Christians that paying attention to state politics may be more important than ever.
Simms’s speech was a litany of progressive, even socialist, talking points, claiming “we need to confront the economic system that is destroying our planet and our communities.” Of particular interest was his stated intent to see the parliament take action in “banning conversion therapy, and ending religious exemptions that allow discrimination of LGBTI people.” What exactly that means is unclear.
The most recent state to bring so-called gender conversion therapy laws into being was Victoria, and their legislation was alarmingly broad and vague, declaring that any action whatsoever undertaken with the intention of dissuading an LGBTQIA person from their self-declared gender or sexual identity is a crime punishable with up to ten years imprisonment or a maximum of a five-hundred thousand dollar fine. In the scope of this legislation, such actions would include prayer or an answer to a direct question. Anything that defies LGBTQIA, identity-based ideology can be interpreted as conversion therapy and is therefore considered harmful.
This legislation criminalises the biblical truth of human sexuality, that God created us male and female, and that sexual activity is a noble act reserved for the sacred union of matrimony. In Victoria, progressives have made headway in making disagreeing with them a criminal act.
This particular law applies to every circumstance, regardless of the offender’s relationship to the person who takes offense. The person the apparently harmful action is directed towards doesn’t even have to take offense; one can be reported to the police for it by someone else who becomes concerned enough to dob their neighbour in.
Under this law, a parent in Victoria could potentially go to prison for telling their young child who approaches them because they feel confused about their gender that they are a boy or a girl, or a pastor could be punished for preaching a sermon on sexuality and marriage to his congregation.
Progressives have continuously framed this issue as being about protecting vulnerable LGBTQIA people from harm, as though churches were using electro-shock therapy on them. What it’s actually about is the shutting down of opinions contrary to the anti-Christian ideology that is increasingly permeating western culture and threatening freedom of speech and of religion.
Simms did not specify what form such a law would take here. One can only hope that he intends for there to be more freedoms for religious people than what Victoria allowed and that it would have a minimal impact given that truly harmful practices against LGBTQIA people are incredibly rare in South Australian churches. The notion of the harmful fundamentalist church bullying LGBTQIA people is simply a boogeyman designed to conceal the actual agenda of disenfranchising those who disagree with them about these issues. Given the radical content of the rest of Simms’s speech, and the precedent set by Victoria, South Australians can’t be blamed for being cynical about the prospect of such a bill being introduced here.
S.A. has seen several progressive bills introduced in its parliament in recent times. As of writing this piece, the Legislative Council is set to debate euthanasia very soon, this time under the title of “Voluntary Assisted Dying.” Recently the Termination of Pregnancy 2020 Bill was passed by the Upper House, which legalized abortion until birth.
Sitting on the fence about such issues, or assuming that things will work out even if we do nothing, is a luxury that Christians and all socially conservative citizens in South Australia can no longer afford.
We have to stand up and ensure that our voices are heard. We have to be writing to our local members. We have to hold marches, as we did in the Walk for Life in 2020, an event that hosted thousands of people who came out on a cold, rainy day to defend the lives of unborn children. We have to show courage and be willing to face social hostility and rejection from our peers who disagree with us and don’t understand the gravity of such unjust laws.
Speaking out may cost us socially in the short-term, but as followers of Christ, it is a small price to pay given the trajectory our state is heading down. As Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
We also have to complement these actions with serious prayer, asking the Lord to give wisdom, conviction and grace to our state’s politicians.
As Christians, we have a duty to fight for what is right and just in society, and these progressive bills are neither of those things – they are false, unjust and endanger the fundamental liberties afforded to us in a western liberal democracy with a Christian heritage (despite what the new proposed school curriculum might suggest). Laws concerning conversion therapy, abortion and euthanasia camouflage sin as compassionate and conceal an agenda that threatens freedom of speech and of religion. This is a terrible thing not only for Christians but for all Australians.
If we are unwilling to be courageous and stand up for goodness and truth then we will only have ourselves to blame.