Martyn Iles says Victoria’s conversion therapy ban is ‘insane’ and ‘evil’

Warning: This story contains information about conversion therapy and blunt descriptions of transitioning gender.

The head of the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) is not holding back on his disdain for the proposed legislation in Victoria that will ban conversion therapy practices, calling it an “insane” and “evil” piece of legislation.

In his latest video blog Martyn Iles from the ACL says the bill will be falsely marketed as a bill that prohibits torture, coercion and abuse

Iles said the report produced last year which outlines details of conversion therapy practices in Australia was not reliable and the claims that up to 10% of the LGBT population were vulnerable of being affected by coercive practices was outrageous.

“Let me be clear, these are lies. Abusive coercive treatments of LGBT people were as much a part of mainstream medicine as they were of any religious community. These things were done in government institutions.

“None of these things are happening anywhere in Australia today. Full stop. End of story. It’s a sham. It isn’t even true.” Iles said.

The lobbyist attacked the testimonies contained within the report, describing them as “survivors” while making air quotation marks.

“The individuals here, whilst they say what they went through hurt them, they did not survive coercion or abuse. They are not survivors of torture. They are survivors of having once gone to church and having very much disliked the doctrine, or having once gone to a voluntary consenting support group and having through better of it afterwards, or having disagreed with their parents over their sexuality and having later been upset by it, or been upset by it at the time.”

Iles said the ACL had asked the Victorian government a series of hypothetical questions about the legislation that he says they were unable to answer.

“We asked whether a parent with a gender dysphoric child would be engaging in criminality for encouraging their child to embrace their biological sex. They couldn’t give us answer.

“So a parent that is apprehensive about putting their child on hormones or potentially ruining their life by chopping up their body, who is apprehensive about that for good common sense and scientific reasons – namely that most children grow out of it – they might be criminalising themselves.”

Iles said the bill would stop people who wanted to “control their LGBT inclinations” from seeking assistance from others, and would limit Christians from living their beliefs, while stopping medical practitioners from taking a cautious approach when dealing with cases of gender dysphoria.

“Who does the Victoria government even think that they are? They’ve never met these parents, they’ve never met these children, they’ve never met the LGBT Christian who wants to live as a Christian first. They now nothing about them, and yet they decree on threat of prison what is best for that person regardless of who that person is, or what that person wants.

Iles said the bill was about outlawing change, outlawing the ability for people to seek self control, labeling it as insane and “actually evil”. Saying churches were full of people who had previously identified as being gay, lesbian or transgender and were now living happy lives.

“These people are real, there’s heaps of them, They couldn’t be happier and they’re erased by this bill.” Iles said.

Quoting the Bible Iles said people who do not follow God are focused on themselves and end up living a lives of misery and shame.

“One that you have to compensate for frankly by shouting about Pride, waving rainbow flags at people and suing them about things you don’t like.” Iles said. The ACL leader said he was aware that LGBTI people had higher levels of mental health concerns and levels of suicide.

“I know many an LGBT person suffers a lot of mental anguish. I know that the mental health outcomes are bad and make really tough reading. I know suicide rates are high. I’ve read papers on the subject, I’ve heard many testimonials and it’s a hard read because every time I do it I read stories from people who are oppressed in themselves and very unhappy.” Iles said.

Iles said banning conversion therapies won’t solve any of the challenges faced by LGBT people, suggesting that people should turn to Christ to solve their problems.

LGBTIQ+ groups welcome the introduction of the bill

LGBTQIA+ advocates have welcomed the legislation, as have conversion practice survivors, who were consulted on the Bill.

“This Bill sends a powerful message that LGBTQ+ people are whole and valid just as they are, and establishes powerful mechanisms to deal with incredibly harmful practices that LGBTQ+ people endure across Victoria,” said Anna Brown, CEO of Equality Australia.

“From consent based facilitation, investigation and enforcement action by the Equal Opportunity Commission, to criminal penalties for serious injury – this legislation provides a range of avenues to prevent harm and bring perpetrators to justice.”

Survivors can bring a complaint to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, which can also initiate its own investigation in serious and systemic cases and take enforcement action to prevent further harm.

Criminal offences outlined in the Bill will be based on existing criminal penalties for causing injury or serious injury.

Chris Csabs from Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Change Efforts (SOGICE) Survivors says that “the main priority when it comes to legislation is to stop the harm from occurring. We believe that this Bill is a big step in that direction.”

Nathan Despott from survivor-led advocacy group Brave Network says that “the Victorian Bill is vastly better than any bill developed in Australia to date” and describes the legislation as a “powerful Bill”.

Anna Brown says “We hope that the Bill will have broad support in the Victorian Parliament and we see the passage of this world-leading legislation. While no law can fix a complex social problem on its own, this Bill is a great step towards ending the incredible harm caused by attempted LGBTQ+ conversion practices.”

“Of course there remains much more to do to ensure LGBTIQ+ people are protected from harm including removing broad exemptions that allow religious institutions to discriminate against LGBTIQ+ people, and ensuring that intersex children are not subjected to unnecessary surgeries or medical treatment.”

Victoria’s peak body for LGBTQIA+ health, Thorne Harbour Health, has also welcomed the Bill.

“By passing this legislation, Victoria has a chance to lead the way globally in protecting the human rights of our sexually and gender diverse communities from incredibly harmful practices based on false and misleading claims,” said Thorne Harbour Health CEO Simon Ruth.

OIP Staff

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