Gay conversion therapy still prevalent in Australia

Canberra, Oct 15 : Therapies to make lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people heterosexual continue to be carried out in several religious communities in Australia, according to a report published on Monday.

The study, "Preventing Harm, Promoting Justice: Responding to LGBT conversion therapy in Australia", is a joint initiative of La Trobe University, the Human Rights Law Centre and Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria, reports Efe news.

"The report reveals the immense trauma and grief participants felt at the prospect of having to choose between their faith or their gender and sexuality, both intimate and important parts of themselves," said Tim Jones, of La Trobe University, who co-authored the study.

The report is based on the experiences of 15 people who were subjected to these therapies and struggled to reconcile their sexual identities with the practices and beliefs of their religious communities.

The study reveals that participants experienced psychological and spiritual trauma at their loss of faith and their struggle to be accepted by their religious communities, according to a statement by La Trobe University.

"My quest to change my sexual orientation saw me praying, being prayed over, and introspecting, self-censoring and even participating in exorcisms.

I tried for many years, with great passion and desire for change - and nothing worked," said Anthony Hind, one of those impacted by conversion therapy.

The study also provides a legal analysis and makes recommendations for reform to governments and religious communities.

One of the recommendations it proposes is the introduction of specific legislation to prevent adults and children from being subjected to conversion therapies, while another proposes support for survivors and education about the harm caused by ideas prevalent in religious communities.

"We hope that these communities will receive the report, reflect on the damage it exposes and work towards ending those harms for their LGBT members," Tim added.

According to Anna Brown, director of legal advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre, the conversion practices are "ineffective and harmful" as "telling someone they are broken or sick because of who they are is profoundly psychologically damaging".

The publication of the report coincides with the controversy over powers being given to religious schools to exclude LGBT students and teachers, and takes place less than a year after the legalization of same-sex marriage in Australia.



Source: IANS