If you blinked, you might have missed almost identical pieces of legislation recently passed by regional governments. Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory both adopted laws within days of each other to criminalise so-called conversion therapy. Legislation demands that health service providers reject any therapy or pastoral care which suggests changing or suppressing a person’s sexual attraction or gender identity. The penalty? Up to 18 months in jail in Queensland and up to $24,000 in fines and 12 months’ imprisonment in the ACT.
Queensland’s Health Minister Steven Miles said, ‘No treatment or practice can change a person’s sexual attraction or experience of gender. To young people out there who might hear this… you can’t be fixed because you are not broken, and anyone who tells you otherwise is wrong – your government supports you.’
ACT’s chief minister, Andrew Barr, described conversion therapies as ‘a form of abuse’ and ‘a profound violation of human rights.’ Barr has even enshrined into law the taking of a person outside the ACT for sexuality or gender identity conversion therapy as an offence. If that is not permanent lockdown of a person’s choices, then what is?
Clearly, both Barr and Miles know little of the inner struggles of unwanted same-sex attractions and gender dysphoria. And yet they justify their laws on a deeply flawed report that came out of LaTrobe University called ‘Preventing Harm, Promoting Justice’.
The report’s authors interviewed a mere 15 people who claim to have had negative experiences with conversion therapy. However, they failed to interview even one person who had experienced lasting change from therapy. These people, whose lives are on public display across many national and international websites, such as Changed Movement, Two Prisms and TrueLove.is, have changed sufficiently to enter into long-term heterosexual marriages, to diminish same-sex attractions or to wholly reject long-term transgender lives. The results of recent comprehensive research done in Australia of over 60 people’s stories is now visible at www.freetochange.org.
My own story includes entry into regular therapy whilst in a long-term gay relationship. The idea of changing sexual attraction had never crossed my mind. Why should it have? I had wholeheartedly believed the mantra that I was born gay. For me, therapy was merely about facing the usual emotional hurdles.
Over time, cognitive therapy, behavioural therapy and EMDR uncovered a mountain of crippling pain. My ‘being gay’ was never therapy’s focus but neither could my lived reality be left outside of the therapists’ doors. Interestingly, the same therapeutic dialogues I had then would be deemed illegal today in Queensland and the ACT.
Therapy helped me face repressed memories of infantile trauma, extensive childhood sex abuse and my being raped by men as a teenager, which had also led me on occasions to deeply question my gender. Within a few years of appropriate therapy, my insatiable eroticisation of men diminished. This had never been the plan. Unexpectedly, as men stopped being a mystery, woman became the mystery I desired to pursue. I dated, eventually married a woman, and today love being a father. Yes, therapy did convert me. I became my truest self in line with my biology and fertility. Life has never been better.
Today, I walk alongside many vulnerable young Australians who struggle with unwanted sexual attractions and questions about gender. Their voices are rarely if ever heard. One 20-year-old male with unwanted same-sex attraction from Brisbane commented, ‘The recovery journey I recently began has decreased my depression, addictions and raging anxiety, and given me hope to reach my full potential. I want more counselling and avenues of access to people who understand the causes of my issues, not total lockdown. Since my government passed this law, I feel completely betrayed and am being plunged into greater depression and increased anxiety. The message they’re sending is that they don’t respect me. They’re forcing me to embrace something I don’t want to embrace. That’s not their decision to make. It’s mine.’
Then there is the 28-year-old male who, two years after rejecting his long-term gay relationship, speaks of having been ‘an addict filled with impulses I couldn’t control, with anxiety and depression, and no direction of where I was going. Now,’ he says, ‘my anxiety has significantly reduced. My depression has lifted. I have direction and hope for the future. I no longer prostitute myself, hustle drugs, steal men from their women, or try to escape reality. Many only tried to make my life comfortable rather than find me help to face the underlying discomforts and pains of my past. The support and therapy I now receive are helping me to address childhood traumas, to make my own life decisions, and to make long-term change imaginable.’
What about minors who seek support in their struggles? An 18-year-old with unwanted same-sex attraction who started therapy when aged 16 after flashbacks of childhood sexual abuse stated, ‘My pain’s slowly been reducing but now I’m getting really stressed about this new law. I’m feeling more vulnerable than ever. It feels as though politicians are now attacking me personally when I am the one who was wronged and hurt as a kid.’
Or take the 54-year-old man who is now detransitioning after having spent 19 years living as a faux-woman having had his genitals and fertility surgically removed thereby forcing his children to call him mum rather than dad. He is now deeply grieving having been fast-tracked away from his biological sex after a mere two consultations with ‘insightful’ medics.
To challenge the ‘can’t change’ propaganda preached by Barr, Miles and other politicians is to be dehumanised by the LGBTQ+ macro minority and their regimented allies. The micro minority of detransitioners and those reducing their same-sex attraction through therapy experience this first-hand. Regional governments’ new therapy legislations do not support the majority. They do the opposite, preventing justice and promoting harm. They are another blatant theft of citizens’ rights.
Every decent Australian who cares about children and vulnerable adults should challenge and outrightly reject laws that control proven beneficial therapy, pastoral care and every individual’s rite of passage to access these.
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James Parker was a gay rights’ activist . He now facilitates True Identity, an informal network that supports those struggling with sexuality & gender identity issues.
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