A unique piece of research from La Trobe University, in conjunction with the Human Rights Law Centre and Gay & Lesbian Health Victoria, has highlighted the impact and harms of LGBT conversion therapy.
The Preventing Harm, Promoting Justice: Responding to LGBT conversion therapy report explores the history of LGBT conversion therapy in Australia through the lens of 15 LGBT individuals with lived experience, with a focus on the use of conversion therapy in faith-based communities including the Jewish community.
At its core, conversion therapy asserts that individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender are ‘sexually broken’ or ‘psychologically damaged’ and therefore in need of redirection and reorientation to repair their sexual orientation or gender identity. To achieve this purported aim, conversion therapy imposes a range of practices such as electroconvulsive therapy, exorcism, hypnotherapy, intensive group prayer and other psychological strategies. The impacts according to those who have experienced such therapies include severe trauma, stress and often long-term psychological damage.
Of concern is the report’s finding that these practices continue today in a broad range of faith communities.
Jewish Care and the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) firmly condemn the principles and assumptions that underlie the practices of conversion therapy, and we are proud to acknowledge and celebrate diversity and hold strong to the belief that it is a human right for all individuals, including those who identify as LGBTIQ+, to live free from prejudice, harm, harassment or abuse.
“It is a dark day to think that individuals are still not accepted for who they are and how they identify,” says CEO Bill Appleby. “Conversion therapy is a violation of the principles of social justice and human rights, and Jewish Care condemns such practices as archaic and harmful. They should not be tolerated.”
The value of inclusion or hachlala underpins the work of Jewish Care and is at the heart of all service delivery. “If we are truly to embrace diversity and work together for a just and equitable society, we need to stand up for those who are marginalised in our community. For an individual to feel forced to choose between their sexuality or gender identity and their religious community is extraordinarily painful. It is for this reason that I felt compelled to take a stand on this important issue,” said Mr Appleby.
JCCV President Jennifer Huppert said, "We must ensure that our community is inclusive for all community members and that our community organisations maintain inclusive practices and procedures to ensure LGBTI individuals and their families feel welcome, respected and valued."
In addition to other activities to ensure the inclusion of LGBTI community members, Jewish Care is currently working to achieve Rainbow Tick accreditation.
For further information on the Preventing Harm, Promoting Justice: Responding to LGBT conversion therapy report, visit https://www.latrobe.edu.au/news/articles/2018/release/report-on-lgbt-conversion-therapy-harms