Anglican Bishop of Newcastle Dr Peter Stuart has commended the NSW Premier for supporting the Conversion Practices Bill being proposed by Independent MP Alex Greenwich.
Bishop Stuart said he strongly supports the bill and is thrilled it now has bi-partisan support.
Gay conversion practices include ongoing or sustained pressure from a church or religious figure to suppress one’s sexuality, religious rituals like exorcisms, and psychiatric or psychological treatments and aversion tactics.
The bill is also set to include extraterritorial powers allowing a parent or carer to be prosecuted if they are responsible for sending a children or adult in their care overseas for treatment.
“Many of our fellow citizens find their journey of self-discovery about their gender and sexuality deeply demanding,” Bishop Stuart says.
“This awareness can turn into a nightmare when they are challenged by their families, culture, or religion.
“The dark face of this challenge is conversion therapy or conversion practice, which has the explicit and implicit message – you are not wanted for who you are.”
Bishop Stuart says the Conversion Practices Bill will help keep all members of the community safe.
“I am proud to be an LGBTIQA+ ally. I want a safer NSW. LGBTIQA+ people tell us that to be open about their questions is to risk exclusion and isolation,” he explains.
“There is enough evidence to show that these conversion practices represent a critical risk to LGBTIQA+ people.
“Those who have experienced conversion practices speak of the damage done to them, including persistent thoughts of ending their lives.
“This proposed bill bans certain practices which are well recognised as harmful. It ensures that our LGBTIQA+ citizens will be protected, especially children.”
The push for the Conversion Practices Bill follows similar actions in Victoria and New Zealand in 2022.
“There is no threat to churches preaching and teaching. They would be required to keep people safe from harmful action – an expectation that reflects other legal requirements,” Bishop Stuart said.
In March 2021, Bishop Stuart was invited by Jayne Ozanne of the Ozanne Foundation to attend an International and Interfaith Conference, which developed safeguarding principles for LGBT+ people in religious communities.
He has been shocked at the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney’s unwillingness to encourage people to listen to Jayne Ozanne when she is Sydney on Sunday 26 February.
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