There is growing controversy in Queensland surrounding the 2002 comments made by Liberal National Party MP Fiona Simpson that homosexuals can “grow into heterosexuality over time”.
Simpson, who is the state shadow minister responsible for communities and women, also encouraged people struggling with their sexuality to contact local Exodus ministries – part of Christian ‘ex-gay’ organisation Exodus International, which claims to be able to cure homosexuality.
Renewed scrutiny of Simpson’s speech to state Parliament during discussion of anti-discrimination law changes in November 2002 arose when she argued against Deputy Premier Andrew Fraser’s plans to introduce a bill legalising same-sex civil unions this week.
Queensland psychologist and ex-leader of Exodus, Paul Martin, today addressed the controversy, admitting there was no evidence to support so-called ‘reparative therapy’ and that all of the major psychological associations around the world have made clear it is potentially dangerous.
“This has the potential to psychologically damage innocent people and maybe contribute to suicidal behaviour,” Martin said.
A specialist in the area of same-sex attraction and mental health for over 25 years, Martin now works with the Centre for Human Potential and said he has seen the harm that is done by these groups first hand.
“They are some of the most psychologically damaged people I have ever worked with; many are survivors of suicide attempts,” he said.
“When a leader such as Fiona Simpson makes misguided comments like this, it has the capacity to confirm these negative beliefs about themselves which can lead to depression, anxiety, substance abuse and self harm.”
Simpson has refused to clarify whether she still supports ‘ex-gay’ therapy.
A campaign calling for her resignation on Twitter under the hashtag #sackfiona is now trending in Brisbane, while her official Facebook page was inundated with criticism from social media users angered by her comments this morning. The page has since been deleted.
Star Observer has requested comment from Simpson’s office.
Read the full transcript of Simpson’s 2002 comments on Hansard here on pages 53-54.