The president of the Victorian Liberal Party has reportedly intervened to shut down debate on a motion to give parents greater access to anti-gay and anti-trans ‘conversion’ therapy for their children.
A conservative Liberal branch, linked to Federal MP Kevin Andrews, had called for legislation allowing healthcare providers to “offer counselling out of same sex attraction or gender transitioning to patients who request it”, according to The Age.
While the motion had been set for debate at the annual state council meeting later this month, president Michael Kroger has stepped in to shut it down after it became public knowledge.
“These are the types of policies you would expect to find in the dark recesses of the 19th century or in the forums of the Australian Conservatives party – not in the modern Liberal Party,” said Liberal MP Trent Zimmerman, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.
“The real debate is whether so-called gay conversion therapy should be regarded as a form of child abuse.”
Other anti-LGBTI proposals that have been put forward for debate 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”.
“There are numerous examples of people who have been forced to go through conversion therapy and experience significant emotional and psychological harm,” said Park.
“People should be supported to feel comfortable with who they are.
“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.”
Jo Hirst, board member at Parents of Gender Diverse Children, said there is solid evidence highlighting that children do best when their gender is affirmed and supported by their families and communities.
“It is deeply concerning that any government body or political party would even consider taking such a bold stand against the world’s best practice and medical advice,” she said.
“The world over we have seen positive moves away from so called ‘conversion therapies’.
“In light of this overwhelming body of evidence and advice we are at a loss to understand what would motivate such a harmful and potentially damaging resolution.”
Survivors of gay conversion therapy have spoken out about its damaging mental health effects, calling for it to be outlawed.
Victoria’s new Health Complaints Commissioner was established last year in part to shut down unregistered practitioners providing conversion therapy.
“The government is committed to combating discrimination and homophobia wherever it exists, and I find any discrimination against people on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender abhorrent,” said Minister for Health Jill Hennessy before establishing the new office.
“We have zero tolerance for any person purporting to be able to ‘convert’ gay people through medical or therapeutic means.
“Any attempts to make people feel uncomfortable with their own sexuality is completely unacceptable.”