Dr David van Gend is the front-runner to represent Groom

Dr David van Gend, the head of the Marriage Forum, a conservative group who opposed marriage equality, is the front runner to take over the seat of Groom in Queensland. Seven candidates have put their hands up for pre-selection for the Liberal National Party seat, but Dr van Gend has the backing of conservative media pundits and high profile party members.

A by-election is due to be held for the seat following the unexpected resignation of John McVeigh last month. Dr van Gend’s nomination has the backing of many members of the Liberal party’s right wing including Senator Eric Abetz, Senator Matt Canavan, former Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson and retired politician Ron Boswell. Columnist Miranda Devine and Sky News presenter Rowan Dean have also voiced their support for Dr van Gend’s nomination.

The high profile backing of Dr van Gend was shared by The Guardian Australia who outlined the string of endorsements the longstanding critic of LGBT rights has presented as part of his pitch for a seat in federal parliament. In a document sent to party members Senator Matt Canavan said Dr van Gend was needed in parliament because of his family values.

“We need people like David in the trenches in Canberra to promote our wealth-producing industries and defend family values with integrity and determination.” Senator Canavan reportedly said.

“Please send this man to Canberra!” Outsiders host Rowan Dean wrote in support of Dr van Gend, describing him as someone who has taken on “cancel culture barbarians”. Miranda Devine described the aspiring politician as a “happy warrior for all the right causes”.

The Toowoomba based doctor has a long history of opposing marriage equality, has criticised same-sex parents, and has previously argued that homosexuality can be treated.

In an opinion piece written for The Courier Mail in 2011, Dr van Gend suggested that allowing same-sex couples to wed would lead to a new “stolen generation” and banning same sex marriage was a necessary discrimination. In his piece van Gend argued that discrimination on the basis of race, and discrimination on the basis of sexuality were not comparable because gay people could change their behaviour and resist the impulse to engage in sexual activity.

“…a gay person can certainly stop being gay, as a large number of formerly gay men and women around the world have demonstrated.” van Gend wrote.

“Homosexual people are able, where motivated, to modify unwanted homosexual attractions and even achieve complete transformation to a heterosexual orientation, as documented in peer-reviewed clinical papers, such as that published by American psychiatrist Robert Spitzer in 2003.”

The study Dr van Gend referred to was widely criticised and Dr Spitzer later offered an apology to the LGBT communities saying his research was flawed and often misrepresented.

In 2017 during the marriage debate Dr van Gend described homosexuality as a “disordered form of behaviour”, despite the World Health Organisation formally removing the classification of homosexuality as mental disorder in 1990, and US bodies removing the definition as early as 1973.

In the same radio interview Dr van Gend suggested that if the legal definition of marriage was changed to allow same-sex couples to wed “society would be filled with abandoned women, fatherless children, chaos and crime.” In 2017, he published his book Stealing from a Child: The Injustice of ‘Marriage Equality’

More recently he has called for the LGBTI communities to be “more tolerant” of people who hold opposing views and argued that the government’s freedom of religion legislation, that is still before the parliament, should be expanded to include protection of any genuinely held view even if it is not from a religious perspective.

OUTinPerth has reached out to Dr van Gend and asked if he stands by his previous comments.

OIP Staff

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