Conversion Therapy – Could you be turned gay?

Pretty sure we all know the answer to that so why, asks Harry Cook, was conversion therapy back on the political agenda in Australia in 2018?

On November 21st 2017, Australia was awash in glitter, rainbows and colour after we at last legalised same-sex marriage. The streets exploded with love, parties were thrown, and couples announced engagements daily. It would seem that we had done it. That the final frontier for equality in Australia had been won. To some degree this was true. After all, we had been battling for marriage equality since, for what felt like, the dawn of time.

Yet just six months later, a proposal to debate the vile topic of conversion therapy at the Liberal Party’s State Council were nullified by Michael Kroger, the party’s president. I sat at my desk at home, my English bulldogs snoring behind me, and wanted to scream at my laptop screen as I read about the push to give parents greater access to conversion therapy, the end goal being to stop same-sex attraction at all costs, even if that means destroying your child’s life in the process.

For those of you who are unaware of the practice of ‘conversion therapy’, it is a horrific form of abuse with only one purpose: to attempt to ‘cleanse’ you of your homosexuality and turn you into a heterosexual.

When I first heard about ‘conversion camps’ I imagined a ridiculous summer camp where one was forced to watch the sports channel 24/7 or Roseanne re-runs on the TV, the only reading material being Playboy or the sports section of a newspaper while you were forced to listen to rock and roll to ‘cleanse’ you of your favourite Broadway showtunes.

What I found instead was much more sinister.

The ‘treatment’ methods range from ‘praying the gay away’ (no, I didn’t make that up) to the more violent forms of electroshock therapy or forced watching of heterosexual pornography.

All in the name of what?

More often than not these are religious-run therapies with the intent of healing ones’ ‘sexuality’ with the help of ‘God’. My question has always been: if God is as powerful and almighty as these right-wing looney’s claim Him to be, why did he make me gay in the first place? Why did he allow his ‘perfect vision’ of humans be tainted with something he was so avidly against?

I am a flaming homosexual right down to my bone marrow. My sexuality isn’t something I was taught. It is as natural in me as my eye colour. The very thought that in 2018, Australia still allows this horrific practice makes my blood run cold. It also proves how far we have left to go.

When will we, as a society, as parents, understand that homosexuality is not a ‘disease’ to be cured. Nobody should be forced to be electrocuted because of who they are attracted to. Young people should not be made to feel ‘wrong’ or ‘other’ because of a prejudice based on religion and ignorance. Nobody should be made to feel less-than because a two-thousand-year-old book has a few paragraphs that says gay cuddling is icky. Haven’t we evolved further than that?

As a society we need to do so much better. More importantly we need to be more informed. The fact that conversion therapy in Australia has been kept under the radar for such a long time is both infuriating and terrifying. How many young peoples’ lives have been ruined by this vile abuse?

Australia needs to realise that there is a whole acronym when it comes to our community. We can’t forget the other letters of LGBTQI+. Same-sex marriage was a huge triumph yes, but we simply can’t think it’s all over. Countless young lives depend on the fight forward. The next fight we have to win is making conversion therapy illegal nation-wide.

No ifs, buts or maybes.

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