Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has given a combative interview on ABC Radio National over the recent push within Victoria’s Liberal Party to grant parents access to gay conversion therapy for their children.

A motion calling for legislation allowing healthcare providers to “offer counselling out of same-sex attraction” had been formed by a conservative Liberal branch, and was set to be debated at the upcoming state conference.

However, the president of Victoria’s Liberal Party stepped in to shut down the debate and remove it from the agenda.

When questioned about the motion by Patricia Karvelas, Hunt said he didn’t support gay conversion therapy, however he also expressed concern over the “constant view that nobody, anywhere, is allowed to have a different view”.

“As a journalist, I would hope that you believe in freedom of speech,” Hunt said to Karvelas.

“What does freedom of speech to you?”

Hunt proceeded to defend the right of others to have alternative views to his own, and demanded that Karvelas explain her views about freedom of speech.

“I’ve answered your question, now you answer mine,” he said. “Will you just once answer a question from me? Your audience is listening, here’s your chance. Or are you afraid to stand up for freedom of speech?”

Karvelas then asked whether the Liberal Party president’s decision to pull the gay conversion therapy motion from the agenda was akin to stifling freedom of speech.

“I didn’t know there was a motion,” Hunt replied.

“I have no idea about the background to it.”

Other anti-LGBTI proposals that have been put forward for debate at the upcoming Liberal state conference include a call to ban the Safe Schools program, as well as any curriculum that teaches about gender diversity or transition.

Dale Park, co-convenor of the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, said the motions were “very concerning”.

“We call on the Liberal Party and the members who say they are inclusive and want to support the LGBTI community to not support these, and to continue to work with the community to develop inclusive policies in education, health, and employment,” he said.

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