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Something is rotten in the state of Victoria, and it’s not ‘conversion therapy’

Something is rotten in the state of Victoria, and it’s not ‘conversion therapy’

by James Parker | February 05, 2019

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Daniel Andrews

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has released a media statement relating to so-called “gay conversion therapy”, promising to outlaw therapies offered to people with unwanted same-sex attraction. This sets off my antennae as I am a male who throughout his entire childhood and early adulthood believed himself to have been “born gay”. 

As a contented gay male I entered into regular therapy in early adulthood. The goal was not to change sexuality (I didn’t believe that was necessary and was told categorically by my LGBTQ elders that it was not even possible), but rather to deal with some of the poor boundaries I experienced in my friendships.

As I stepped over the therapist’s lintel, it was of course impossible to leave behind any part of my character or life experience. All of me entered the room, including every one of my sexual attractions.

In brief, over the period of a few years I had morphed into a very different person to the one who had originally embarked upon therapy. The greatest change was that I left therapy feeling significantly more sexually attracted to women than I did to men. That had never been the plan, so nobody was more shocked than me.

What is the Victorian government’s agenda?

Today, Premier Andrews drives the national debate around the topic of whether change is possible in the area of sexual attraction. The fires he creates are stoked by a myriad of LGBTQ advocates and their allies.

It is interesting that, as this debate rises in pockets of the Western world, very few people, including clinicians and members of the LGBTQ community, can clearly define what this therapy is and what exactly it entails.

This question alone should make us all consider carefully what the Victorian government’s underlying agenda might be. This is vital since the legal chains being melted and cast in Victorian furnaces could well be shackling individuals right across Australia and beyond before too long.

In his statement, Andrews mocks the claim that it is possible “to change someone’s sexuality or gender identity.” He says that any attempt to do this is “a most personal form of torture, a cruel practice that perpetuates the idea that LGBTI people are in some way broken” referring to any help offered as “bigoted quackery.”

His hyperbole is based on a report produced in partnership with La Trobe University (yes, architects of Australia’s contemptible Safe Schools Coalition). The report’s summary states that “the historical review” undertaken by its researchers “shows that attempts to reorient LGBT people are recent,” going on to say that “in clinical medicine they were only experimental and were never successful”. (my italics)

Never successful, eh?

Twenty well-known studies over 40 years show success

Researchers of the final report, surreptitiously entitled Preventing Harm, Promoting Justice, clearly failed to access over 20 renowned empirical case studies (see footnote) which demonstrated that over a 40-year period between 1970 and 2010 over 40 percent of homosexually oriented people who underwent therapy, often in the care of compassionate, insightful and trained professionals, experienced some degree of healthy shift towards heterosexuality.

They also ignore contemporary research undertaken by Dr Lisa Diamond, a non-religious lesbian researcher at Utah University, and Ritch Savin-Williams, professor emeritus of developmental psychology of Cornell University who specialises in gay, lesbian, and bisexual research.

Both Diamond and Savin-Williams produced conclusive evidence that many people experience change in sexual attraction and that sexuality can be incredibly fluid. Here we see science backing up the plethora of stories increasingly found online from people who have moved beyond gay to live what they speak of as more fulfilling and stable lives, with some marrying the opposite sex and enjoying parenthood. The recently birthed Changed movement bears witness to this.

Andrews’ researchers also ignored a peer-reviewed 2018 study undertaken by New Zealand scientific research consultant Dr. Neil Whitehead along with Paul Santero and Dolores Ballesteros.

Whitehead and colleagues examined the reported benefits of sexual attraction fluidity exploration in therapy (SAFE-T) as well as the positives and harms in a sample of religious men with unwanted same-sex attractions. Their outcomes show that, “as found in previous surveys, there was real change, little harm, much good, completely opposite to the findings of the [2009 American Psychological Association] report”.

“A number changed a dramatic extent – from nearly completely same-sex attraction to nearly completely opposite-sex attracted,” Whitehead stated.  “About two thirds moved a significant amount, and the rest mainly did not show any change. A very few actually became more same-sex attracted. However, it was rather remarkable how much therapy was found to be very beneficial, even among those who did not change. One can surmise they had lots of help for other issues and found real fellowship in the support groups.”

This doesn’t sound so profoundly torturous and cruel, does it, Mr Andrews?

Sexual agendas and religious freedom

Andrews also told journalists: “We’ll drag these practices from the dark ages and into the brightest of lights. We’ll put an end to the suffering and help survivors to heal. And we’ll send the clearest message of all: Here in Victoria, not only are you good enough – you’re worth celebrating.”

Strong words of threat and of warfare. Also rather strange: although the La Trobe report he relies on says that “attempts to reorient LGBT people are recent,” suddenly Victorian politicians will be dragging these practices “from the dark ages.”

Could there be just a hint of an underlying agenda to all this? Well, yes. It is politics after all.

Whitehead states in his peer-reviewed research (unlike the research embraced by Andrews which has not been peer-reviewed), “The people in this survey had a religiosity very much higher than the general population. However, they were quite diverse – nondenominational Protestants, Jews, Mormons, a few Catholics, and a few traditional Protestants – no Atheists!”

It does not take much effort to understand why religious freedom, a dominant pillar of a stable society, must be mocked and attacked at every level by LGBTQ advocates and their allies after the passing of same-sex marriage legislation. Think about it: if people aren’t actually “born gay” (and please wake me up if they ever find “the gay gene”) then the whole LGBTQ push for newly-minted rights is null and void.

Religious belief and practice have throughout history offered individuals a very real way out of unwanted behaviours and mindsets, and we see today that these include unwanted same-sex attractions. It is for this reason that so-called ex-gays love gays and try to reach out to them, and explains why gays hate ex-gays and bully them mercilessly into silence.

Andrews’ proposed laws are likely only to achieve the opposite of what he preaches.

They will create greater suffering for a number of very vulnerable people.  They will block many survivors of sexual trauma from accessing healing and hope. They send a strong message to Victorians that only proponents of LGBTQ ideology are “good enough” and that those who dare to risk searching for inner freedom outside of the fundamentalist religion of the Fallen Rainbow Bubble are not worth celebrating and must be excommunicated.

This law should enrage everyone who values true freedom. It manifests a dictatorial state deciding whether an unwanted aspect of a citizen, which might well be changeable, can be professionally addressed or not.

Will the same prohibition, or a similar one, which denies a person the right to undergo their own selection of therapy, be placed upon any of the twelve-step programs which presently assist our fellow Australians to free themselves of alcohol and drug addictions, thus saving the taxpayer a small fortune in Medicare rebates?

Will it lead to those with a plethora of sexual fetishes being told that they are normal and to live these out without concern or shame?

Let’s give the final word to gay political writer and broadcaster Matthew Parris, whose column in last month’s British Spectator was entitled, “The fact no one likes to admit: many gay men could just have easily been straight”. He says:

"…there are plenty of ‘gay’ men who know that, in a different life, they could reasonably contentedly be straight. Indeed, hordes are: happy in real marriages with wives and children. And I’ve noticed in myself and heard reported from others how the shapes of our desires can shift with the years.

"In what passes for the gay ‘community’, there’s something of a taboo about admitting, even to ourselves, that quite a few of us (not me) could, with a little coaxing and self-discipline, be ‘straight’."

Will somebody please change the lenses in Mr Andrews’ glasses and remove the earplugs from his staff’s ears? Victoria wants to make laws based on a taboo of the LGBTQ community. If denying a person’s request for internationally proven care is rejected in the area of something as fluid as sexual attraction, and endorsed by a community that fears to look its own reality in the eyes, then what else might such a denial be applied to in years to come? And which member of your family will it ultimately affect, if indeed it somehow manages to bypass you, which of course it may not?

All is not well in the state of Victoria as harm is promoted and justice prevented, where lies are now casually delivered as truth and where truth is now denied the freedom of debate.

As Australians, the challenge we all have is this: if we fail to speak up for person-centred therapeutic choice now, how long before we too are incarcerated in similar chains of faux-freedom presently being cast in the furnaces of Victoria?

James Parker is a former gay activist who today supports same-sex attracted people and their loved ones. 

Studies showing change towards heterosexual after therapy:

Jones & Yarhouse, Book: Ex-Gays? A Longitudinal Study, InterVarsity Press, 2007. Experiencing at least some heterosexual shift: 33 out of 73

Shidlo & Schroeder, Professional Psychology: Research & Practice, 2002 – 14 out of 202

Nicolosi, Byrd & Potts, Psychological Reports, 1997 - 573 out of 882

Berger, American Journal of Psychotherapy, 1994 - 1 out of 1

MacIntosh, Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Assocn, 1994- 276/1215

Golwyn & Sevlie, Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 1993 - 1 out of 1

Schechter, International Forum of Psychoanalysis, 1992 - 1 out of 1

Van den Aardweg, Book: On the Origins & Treatment of Homosexuality,’86 – 37 out of 101

Schwartz & Masters, American Journal of Psychiatry, 1984 - 35 out of 54

Pattison & Pattison, American Journal of Psychiatry, 1980 - 11 out of 11

Birk, Book: Homosexual Behavior: A Modern Reappraisal, 1980 - 1 out of 29

Masters & Johnson, Book: Homosexuality in Perspective, 1979 - 29 out of 67

Socarides, Book: Homosexuality, 1978 - 20 out of 45

Callahan, Book: Counseling Methods, 1976 - 1 out of 1

Freeman & Meyer, Behavior Therapy, 1975 - 9 out of 11

Canton-Dutari, Archives of Sexual Behavior, 1974 - 44 out of 54

Birk, Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 1974 - 14 out of 66

Liss & Weiner, American Journal of Psychotherapy, 1973 - 1 out of 1

Barlow & Agras, Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 1973 - 2 out of 2

Pittman & DeYoung, Int’l Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 1971 – 3 out of 6

Truax & Tourney. Diseases of the Nervous System, 1971 - 20 out of 30

Hatterer, Book: Changing Homosexuality in the Male, 1970 - 49 out of 143

McConaghy, British Journal of Psychiatry, 1970 - 10 out of 40

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