With all the radio talkback over the Margaret Court furore, there seems to be some misunderstanding about why the LGBTI community is upset by her remarks.

The presumption made is the ‘gays’ are outraged because Court has expressed her opposition to same-sex marriage. This is not the case.

While Court did reject marriage equality, she is entitled to that view. The LGBTI community is also entitled to oppose it.

But the inference being made in some quarters is that the gay community is far too sensitive about a few frivolous comments from a former Aussie tennis great.

If it was just about marriage, perhaps some of this critique could be levelled.

But there is something far more sinister about Court’s comments published in The Australian last week — her admission of converting gay people.

Court, who is senior pastor at Perth’s Victory Life Centre church, claims she has nothing against gay people. Rather, she simply helps gay people in her church “overcome” their homosexuality.

“We have them in our church. I help them to overcome. We have people who have been homosexual who are now married,” Court said. It is this, not her views on marriage, the LGBTI community should rightly fight against.

It is one thing to oppose gay marriage, but quite another to quash the integral part of a person that makes them human — their ability to love.

Conversion or ‘reparative’ therapy, as it’s known, can be disturbingly damaging. It is the ultimate rejection of a person’s sense of self and usually involves desperately vulnerable people, convinced they’re an abomination in the eyes of the Lord, simply for being who they are. It is an outdated practice whose heart lies in hate.

Freedom2b, a network that helps people from pentecostal Christian backgrounds, knows exactly the sort of damage this kind of sentiment causes. Many of its members come to the group deeply traumatised as a result of conversion therapy or rejection.

It is this thinking, that LGBTI people are not worthy, are sinful, or wrong that needs to be challenged.

The wider community needs to understand why the denial of LGBTI people’s existence is a problem and hits at the very centre of the push for equal rights, respect and decency for LGBTI people in this country and across the globe.

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