The Guardian, by Josh Taylor: Religious schools and organizations are fighting a move by the Queensland government to make LGBT-related conversion therapy a crime in the state.
In late November, the Queensland government introduced legislation that would, among other amendments to health legislation, make the practice of conversion therapy to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity punishable by up to 18 months in jail.
The examples provided in the legislation include aversion therapy, psychoanalysis, or hypnotherapy with the aim of changing or suppressing a person’s sexuality, but it also extends to counselling and group activities.
The legislation—which followed a 2018 Human Rights Law Centre review into conversion therapy practices in Australia—has the strong support of medical bodies, such as the Australian Psychological Society, and human rights organizations, such as the Queensland Human Rights Commission.
Christian organizations and schools, however, have expressed concerns that the legislation might prevent them from being able to counsel people on sexuality and gender based on their interpretation of Christianity.
Associated Christian Schools, which represents 38 schools in Queensland, said that the legislation as drafted could prevent religious counsellors from “communicating the institution’s religious doctrines and beliefs, whether they pertain to sexuality, gender identity, or any other issue”.
The association also argued that adults giving informed consent should be able to freely participate in counselling regarding their sexuality and gender.
Renew Ministries, which says it is part of the ex-gay conversion therapy group Exodus, told the committee it “does not support or practice shock treatment, aversion therapy, and people who come to Renew do so voluntarily.”
“The inference is that Christians may in the future be dictated to as to what they may believe, say, or choose to follow,” the submission states.
“This is looking to be an attack on Christians who are same-sex attracted but want to live according to their own personal definitions of their sexuality.”
The Queensland Law Society also expressed concern over the legislation, stating there was a lack of evidence needed for the new offences, and said it could have unintended consequences.
How long will it be before it becomes a crime to share one’s biblical beliefs with others?
“And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 12:17.