Shadow Minister for Health Catherine King has condemned the Liberal Party for attempting to encourage anti-gay and anti-trans ‘conversion therapy’ in Victoria.

In a response to an online petition calling for the practice to be abolished, King wrote that comments by Health Minister Greg Hunt and Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack on conversion therapy were “ignorant and incredibly hurtful”.

After the Victorian Liberal Party attempted to introduce a motion supporting counselling to talk young people out of being gay or trans—which was shot down by the state president—McCormack last week said he had no opinion on the matter.

Hunt defended the motion as benign “freedom of speech” and “a different view”.

King spoke out against the ministers’ attitude about conversion therapy.

“Conversion therapy is discredited and dangerous,” she wrote.

“But shockingly, two Turnbull Government ministers—the Acting Prime Minister and the Health Minister—have now failed to condemn the practice when given the chance. This follows attempts by some Liberals to restore the practice in Victoria.

“Greg Hunt and Michael McCormack’s comments were ignorant and incredibly hurtful, and fly in the face of expert advice.”

King quoted the Australian Medical Association in calling conversion therapy “harmful to both the individuals who are subjected to it, and society more broadly, as it perpetuates the erroneous belief that homosexuality is a disorder which requires a cure”.

She added that the World Medical Association has said that conversion has “no medical indication and represent[s] a serious threat to the health and human rights of those so treated”.

“Labor agrees. That’s why we’re calling on the Turnbull Government to clarify its stance on gay conversion therapy urgently—and work with the states to ban it,” King wrote.

While the conversion motion was shut down, this month’s annual Liberal state conference is set to include debate on a number of other anti-LGBTI proposals, including a call to ban the Safe Schools program or any curriculum that teaches about gender diversity or transition.

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