WITH the Victorian state government announcing a ban on “conversion therapy” this week, WA Greens MP Alison Xamon has called on WA to follow suit.
The therapy attempts to “cure” gay people by making them straight, and is mostly used by fundamentalist religious groups.
The Victorian Health Complaints Commissioner found “overwhelming evidence” that the therapy does serious long-term harm, leading to trauma, self-hatred and in some cases suicide.
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews announced the ban on Sunday September 3, calling the practice “bigoted quackery”.
The Australian Christian Lobby has vaguely opposed the ban, worried the proposed new law could affect religious parents wanting to “raise families consistent with their religious and moral convictions”, according to a statement by managing director Martyn Iles in November.
Ms Xamon, Greens spokesperson for mental health, says gay conversion therapy is “an appalling practice that attempts to change the fundamental truth of a person’s identity by methods that are questionable at best; and outright abusive at worst.
“We know that the ‘therapy’ often takes place informally, often in a religious context, and most often by unlicensed and unregulated therapists and psychologists.”
She notes the practice is opposed by the Australian Medical Association, the Royal A&NZ College of Psychiatrists and the Royal Australasian College of Physicians.
In 2017 WA mental health minister Roger Cook said he opposed the practice and would look into whether WA’s laws needed changing, but he said this week there was still nothing concrete in place.
“We’ll watch closely to see how the ban on gay conversion therapy progresses in Victoria,” he says.
by DAVID BELL