Senator Janet Rice highlights gay conversion therapy in Australia

Senator Janet Rice says it’s devastating that young Australians are trying to “pray the gay away” and called on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull show leadership and ensure that the harmful practices of gay conversion therapy are stamped out.

The Greens senator shared the story of Chris – a man who had been through a gay conversion therapy program during a speech in parliament last week.

Senator Rice explained that when Chris was a teenager he shared his feeling of same-sex attraction with a church leader and he was first sent to a course that claimed it could change his sexuality.

Senator Rice shared Chris’s memories of attending a Living Waters program a few years later.

“Chris recalls that, every week, members spoke about their sins and they learned about the spiritual and experiential reasons that had led them to turn gay. He speaks of being so ashamed and guilt-ridden that he remained completely celibate for years.

“In his words: ‘It was a pretty lonely way to live, really—but that’s what I felt I had to do.’ He believed there were demons inside him and was desperate to be healed. Can you imagine the fear he must have felt? He prayed to God, asking him to either heal him or kill him. Heal him or kill him. As you can imagine, the trauma associated with attempted gay conversion still affects Chris today. How could it not?

Senator Rice highlighted research which shows that despite publicly advertised programs like Living Waters no longer being around, the practice of gay conversion therapy has just moved underground.

“Organisations are changing their names and their public profiles, but they’re still doing the same insidious and harmful work.” Senator Rice said.  

The Greens’ MP called on politicians to take action and make the practice illegal.

“We need to eradicate all reparative sexual orientation and gender identity conversion therapies. The Greens are calling on the federal government to take action now.” Senator Rice said. “This is a national issue, and people are being hurt. Prime Minister Turnbull and Minister for Health Greg Hunt urgently need to lead the conversation, to work with the states and territories, to engage with experts, to hear survivors and to stamp out this harmful practice once and for all.”

Watch the whole speech. 

OIP Staff

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