In May the Tasmania Law Reform Institute (TLRI) unveiled its recommendations about how to deal with supposed risks and harms caused by sexual orientation and gender identity conversion practices.

The TLRI report echoes what has been preached across Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory and Victoria — that conversion therapy is brutal and abusive, that it aims to change, suppress or eradicate people’s sexual orientation or gender identity. This includes subjecting a person to “therapy”, “counselling”, or “treatment” to change whom they are attracted to, or how they feel about or express their gender.

It is true that some questioning youths were mistreated in the past. But this stopped decades ago. Besides, the report ignores recent research about what academics call “Sexual Orientation Change Efforts” (SOCE). Earlier this year, in a leading peer-reviewed journal, Frontiers in Psychology, American sociologist Paul Sullins states bluntly that “even for persons for whom SOCE has had no efficacy, there is no discernible psychosocial risk”.

As MercatorNet reported earlier this year:

[Sullins] compared SOCE alumni — people who have undergone “conversion therapy” — with non-SOCE LGB persons. Astonishingly, for anyone informed only by the overheated media coverage, he found no difference between the two groups for several measures of behavioural harm, including suicidal morbidity, psychological distress, self-harm (cutting), and substance abuse.

True, SOCE alumni probably did experience stress and stigma over their lifetimes – but they did not fare worse than the non-SOCE group. Even in measures like internalised homophobia and the number of days of poor mental health in the past month there was no difference. There was at least one difference — they were more likely to be out about their sexuality.

Research like this should put to rest concerns about cries from a very vocal minority within a minority to ban modern-day “conversion practices”.

The real question is why Tasmania’s leading LGBTQ+ ideologue, Rodney Croome, and his allies choose deliberately to turn a blind eye to a mountain of evidence.

(1) Extensive research has uncovered that sexuality can change. In 2019 a study was published in the journal Science based on nearly 500,000 people’s experience. It concluded that “while sexual preferences have a genetic component, no single gene has a large effect on sexual behaviours”. This suggests that change is possible and can be beneficial when painful and traumatic environmental and emotional influences are faced and healed.

Unlike morally neutral traits like race, sex or ethnicity, sexual behaviour is chosen and does have moral, social and health implications. If this is true, why should Tasmania ban conversion therapy?

 (2) Leading LGBTQ+ activists around the world insist that sexuality is fluid. Take Matthew Parris, a former British MP, well-known columnist. He is gay and married to his long-term partner: “There’s something of a taboo [in the gay community] about admitting that quite a few of us could, with a little coaxing and self-discipline, be ‘straight’,” he wrote in The Spectator.

According to Peter Tatchell, the UK’s best-known gay campaigner, “Most lesbians and gays say they felt ‘different’ from a very young age… While this suggests that sexuality is formed unconsciously by early childhood at the latest, it does not necessarily mean we are born with a pre-fixed sexual orientation.”

Lesbian psychologist Dr Lisa Diamond, an American expert on sexual fluidity says: “we should embrace the fact that sexuality can change.” If these experts are right, why should Tasmania ban conversion therapy?

(3) The TLRI is ignoring the voices of other lesbians, gays, and women. In 2020 the LGB Alliance (Australia) critiqued equivalent legislation in Victoria in a powerful position paper. It argued that mandatory affirmation of gender identity was itself a kind of conversion practice. It suggested that this approach was authoritarian. “If we were to accept the ‘conversion/suppression’ definitions framed by this Bill, we would have to accept that any cautious measured approach is a danger to a free society and that the state can preordain transition as the only permissible option,” it warned.

The Victorian Women’s Guild, a feminist collective which promotes the sex-based rights of women and girls, said that proposed changes in the Tasmanian law are seriously misguided: “The chilling effect this will have on medical professionals means the people they’re treating for gender dysphoria will not be given the option of a ‘wait and see’ approach as a resolution but will be set on a path of affirmation practices that include experimental medical interventions as well as gay and lesbian erasure from society.”

If important gay and lesbian voices object, why should Tasmania ban conversion therapy?

(4) Research confirms the life-saving, beneficial help received today by Tasmanians and other Australians who experience same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria.

A 2020 survey of 78 former LGBT people in Australia and overseas, Free To Change, found that there was a decrease in suicidal ideation by 40%, in anxiety by 49%, in promiscuity by 47%. And it states that there was an improvement in self-image by 50%, in relationships by 29%, and in physical health by 20%. In all cases reviewed by Free to Change, gender identity reverted to natal sex by 100%. Nearly 80% of the Free to Change respondents had taken advantage of professional or religious counselling .

Tasmanians should be aware that many in the LGBTQ+ community do not share Rodney Croome’s fundamentalist views. They speak openly in community chatrooms of the real harm they experience from the false narratives and ideology promoted by LGBTQ+ protagonists. You can read numerous ex-LGBT online stories. If some people find it helpful, why should Tasmania ban conversion therapy?

Furthermore, I fear for a generation of children who are been brainwashed into accepting the transgender narrative. Children are the target of physicians recommending “gender-affirming” surgeries and irrevocable hormone blockers to treat gender dysphoria. This is deeply disturbing.

The American Psychological Association (APA) knows that gender dysphoria in children does not persist through adolescence in most cases, unless hormone blockers interfere with the body’s normal functioning. The number of adults who regret transgender surgeries and are de-transitioning is growing, with no one, perhaps except people linked to a Church, to heed their cries. Australian paediatricians are also speaking out about the failures by state health departments to ethically face the gender issue.

I was once a gay activist, like Rodney Croome. I can cite peer-reviewed research to support my views but I also know from my own lived experience that people with same-sex attraction can change and live significantly improved lives.

The TLRI recommendations are by no means compassionate. What if a gay man trapped in sex addiction wishes to reduce his penchant for casual sexual partners so as to sustain a monogamous relationship? “No!” cries the report. What if a same-sex attracted, or other-sex attracted, adult male or female wishes to address their strong erotic attraction to children? “No!” cries the report. These would be deemed as changing, suppressing or eradicating through “therapy”, “counselling”, or “treatment” whom individuals are attracted to.

As an activist I was taught that to lie and manipulate whenever necessary so to achieve legislation which worked in favour of eradicating all sexual mores – especially so as to access and sexualise minors – was not only perfectly acceptable but necessary for the cause. Remember the online furore when the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus proudly declared, “We’ll convert your children”? This wasn’t mere satire. It was an open admission of the LGBTQ+ agenda. If anything, these are the conversion practices which should be regulated or even banned.  

Same-sex attracted and gender anxious people have a right to access the health care of their choice, including any form of spiritual counselling. Christian medical care assists greatly when bodies groan with illness — and so does Christian counselling when minds are afflicted with trauma and abuse. To deny access to care like this is bigoted and discriminatory; it is potentially harmful and suicide-inducing.

Tasmanian politicians must not allow themselves to be bullied into kowtowing to the demands of a few LGBTQ+ fundamentalists. They have to open their hearts to the very real therapeutic and spiritual needs of citizens who experience same-sex attraction and gender anxiety.

James Parker was a gay rights’ activist. He now facilitates True Identity, an informal network that supports those struggling with sexuality & gender identity issues.