“Counsellors” or “Criminals”


Galactic Dreams by skagitrenee

As we wait for the Ruddock Report on ‘religious freedom’ to be released, pressure is growing to criminalise ‘conversion therapy’ – the dangerous and fraudulent attempt to tamper with sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

Properly qualified Christian counsellors abandoned the practice two years ago: the Christian Counsellors Association of Australia code of ethics was quietly amended to state that no member is to work with clients on modifying or changing their sexual orientation.


Momentum is building around the world to ban “conversion” or “reparative” therapy, which claims to be able to turn LGBTI people straight.

Old-style conversion therapy – better known as aversion therapy – used barbaric techniques including lobotomy, rape, induced vomiting, chemical castration, isolation, drugs, electric shocks in an horrific attempt to turn LGBTI people ‘straight’: some of these techniques are still allegedly in use in China, Japan, Eastern Europe and elsewhere. In the West such ‘therapy’ is no longer used, and indeed any attempt to change sexual orientation is now discredited and condemned by the entire medical profession.

But a form of ‘reparative therapy’ is still practised under cover and under the guise of ‘counselling’. Most ‘counsellors’ no longer  openly offer a ‘cure’; they merely claim to help you suppress your sexual desires. To suggest that they could do more could open them to prosecution for fraud.

Many jurisdictions around the world are introducing legislation to try to stamp out these ‘treatments’, which are in reality a form of psychological torture. But many continue beneath a cloak of religion. And many so-called ‘Christians’ are only too happy to give them a home.


The Australian Christian Lobby – supported by the Roman Catholic Church, Sydney Anglicans, Hillsong, Assemblies of God – is keen to protect and promote this quackery. Former ACL leader Lyle Shelton even told Buzzfeed (during the marriage postal vote) that parents should have the right to send their children for ‘treatment’!

“Small-l” Liberals, Greens, and liberal churchmen, disagree: the Labor Party’s draft policy platform says the party “opposes the practice of so-called conversion and reparative therapies on LGBTIQ+ people and seek[s] to criminalise these practices”.

Both sides are jockeying for position ahead of the release of the Ruddock Report on Religious Freedom, still lurking under wraps somewhere in the bowels of the government, ready to burst forth at any politically convenient moment.


One of the world’s acknowledged experts on the issue, Anthony Venn-Brown, is a former evangelical preacher who endured numerous bouts of this spurious ‘treatment’ himself. His report on the current state of conversion therapy in Australia can be found here. He says that ‘religious gay conversion therapy’ is widespread and prevalent in Australia under the guise of ‘spiritual advice, prayer, or spiritual counselling’.

Organisations frequently put up ‘poster boys’ (they’re usually men) proclaiming how Jesus saved them from a life of sin. Unfortunately for them, most if not all of these ‘ex-gays’ are subsequently revealed to be ‘unsaved’, admitting that the change was bogus. They were able to function for a time as ‘situational heterosexuals’, marrying and founding families, but their sexual orientation to other males remained fundamentally unchanged. The landscape of religious ‘conversion therapy’ is littered with these ex-ex-gays.

Sadly, it is also littered with the corpses of those who believed the lies, who, when they could not change, took their own lives. That’s when these ‘counsellors’ twist themselves in knots to avoid facing the fact that they are in all probability driving people to their deaths.

Asked if his wife had ever told people she counselled that she could cure them of their homosexuality, he said: ”Wrong. Only if the person wants to be cured. They can be cured of anything. I’m not saying they can be cured completely but they can overcome it, like alcoholism.”

We must also bear in mind that it’s not just the person being ‘counselled’ who is harmed: their loved ones and families are likewise harmed by the process. Yet the Australian Christian Lobby still wants children to be given this ‘treatment’.

It’s time this dreadful practice was criminalised: counselling’ a gay person into straightness is as absurd as ‘counselling’ a short person into tallness. However well-meaning – and it is often not – it is stupid and dangerous, and needs to be stamped out. Religious freedom doesn’t enter into it.


Venn-Brown is currently on his way home from a three month world trip researching conversion therapy for his next book “The Quest To Cure Queers – Exodus to Nowhere.” Along the way he met and spoke with experts in the field, former ex-gay leaders, psychiatrists, activists. On his return he will give a full report on his findings. If you are interested in attending please use THIS LINK to register your interest.

You can see all the places he’s been and people he’s met here TAKE ME TO THE #Journey2theTruth ALBUM

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If you’d like to help Anthony in his work,  CLICK HERE.

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)