Sometimes I read things that I really don’t know what to do about, things that seem to me to be so significant that I feel I have to let others know, even if the reaction I get is anger. And I’m allowed to speak up like that. It is one of the strengths of free speech. Free speech allows us to raise concerns even when they’re not always welcomed.
In Dr John Whitehall’s Quadrant article of July 2018 he drew my attention to the draft platform prepared by the Australian Labor Party for its National Conference later this year which, in Chapter 10 (“Strong democracy and effective government”), includes, for the first time, a specific provision regarding gay conversion therapy. Paragraph 83 says, “Labor opposes the practice of so-called conversion and reparative therapies on LGBTIQ people and seek [sic] to criminalise these practices.”
Whitehall notes that “The ALP’s federal health spokesperson, Catherine King, has been reported to have declared that “stamping out gay conversion therapy would be a ‘personal priority’ if Labor wins the next election””. Whitehall notes that there is no age limit for conversion therapy and, therefore, these new laws would “ensure child protection authorities acknowledge attempts to ‘cure’ gender questioning children and young people as serious psychological abuse, and would acknowledge these harms, when suffered within the family, as domestic violence against the child”.
The political use of language can often be loaded and some terminology can be misleading when we are not familiar with it. Whitehall explains that ““Conversion therapy” is double-speak for any attempt to reduce gender dysphoria by helping the child become comfortable with its natal identity, and not ushering the child onto the pathway of affirmation. Merely waiting expectantly for the orientating effects of puberty may be considered a sin of omission, deserving punishment by federal law. In the future, it may become very dangerous for a child to express confusion of gender: no one will be able legally to protect it from the protocols of the state.”
My response to Whitehall’s article is really a two-fold concern.
The first is simply my concern for children. If the Royal Commission into Institutional Abuse has taught us anything it is that every effort needs to be made for the protection of children. There is no doubt that childhood and adolescence can be a time of significant confusion when it comes to one’s identity. It is hardly helpful to legislate for a time of such confusion against counsel that is age sensitive. It is also irresponsible to ignore the changes that come with puberty. If the legislation as suggested by the Labor party proceeds it may well enshrine in law further institutional abuse of our nation’s children. The redress that may well be needed in years to come will be drawn from the pocket of the tax payer and not the political elite responsible.
The second of my concerns is the suggested intrusion of the State into family life. Sadly we will always experience extremes when it comes to dysfunctional families but it is one of the blessings of living in our nation that a significantly large proportion of Australian families are pretty good. The idea that a parent’s responses to their children’s identity questions could be considered as domestic violence against a child is, from my perspective, an over stepping political power. Any attempt by the state to govern the home life of Australians is an insult to parents of such homes. One might wonder what next…political parties demanding that we teach our children to vote for them and prosecuting parents for their failure to do so?
If I have misread the situation, or if I have been misinformed, I apologise but when I am confronted by information that is this concerning then I think we all need to be better informed. It was Jesus Christ who shone light into the darkness and from whom we learn that only the truth will set us free.