Western Australian Health Minister Roger Cook has spoken out against anti-gay conversion, calling the practice “abhorrent” and pledging action to end it in the state.
Writing in response to an online petition calling for the government to outlaw so-called conversion therapies, Cook said that anyone aware of such practices occurring should report them to the relevant regulatory bodies.
“The Australian Medical Association, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists and the Royal Australasian College of Physicians are strongly against psychological practices that attempt to change sexual orientation, as is the Australian Psychological Society and Australian Psychological Association.
“Any public or private psychiatrist or psychologist practicing psychological practices that attempt to change sexual orientation may be in breach of their professional code of conduct and code of ethics and I strongly encourage the reporting of these breaches.”
Cook noted that unlike psychologists and medical practitioners, counsellors can practice without any regulatory body approval.
“This means reporting and identifying individuals and organisations practicing psychological practices that attempt to change sexual orientation is difficult,” he wrote.
Cook said that he would review the work of the Victorian Health Complaints Commissioner, a role created in part to police anti-gay conversion practitioners, to determine if Western Australia should introduce a similar measure.
He said that Western Australia is considering adoption of the National Code of Conduct for healthcare workers, under which practising anti-gay conversion would likely constitute a breach.
“The health and wellbeing of the Western Australian LGBTI community is important to me and practices that attempt to change sexual orientation are abhorrent and negatively impact the mental health of LGBTI persons,” Cook wrote.
“I have committed funding for the development of an LGBTI health strategy, which aims to raise awareness of the specific health and mental health challenges experienced by LGBTI people.”
Survivors of conversion therapy have publicly told their stories of abuse at the hands of rogue mental health practitioners or religious groups.
The extent of anti-gay conversion is unknown in Australia, due to the practice being driven underground in recent years.