At the outset, let’s agree that any “gay conversion therapy” practices which are cruel, coercive, or against anyone’s own wishes are inappropriate.
The problem, however, is that legislation outlawing “gay conversion therapy” often goes much further than merely banning coercive practices. Instead, such legislation appears to attempt to re-engineer society, through using the law to force people to think, act, and speak differently in relation to same-sex and gender matters. For instance, the Prohibition of Conversion Therapy Bill (a private member’s bill awaiting consideration by the New Zealand Parliament), could – depending on how the courts interpret and apply the law – potentially make the following vulnerable to a criminal charge…
- counsellors who give support to anyone who voluntarily asks for help in redirecting their sexuality away from same-sex expression
- those (including parents) who advise children or youth against changing gender
- preachers and youth workers who draw attention to biblical passages against same-sex behaviour.
If this Bill were enacted, it could have a serious effect on all faith communities – Christian or otherwise – and dangerously compromise freedoms of expression and of religion. Surely a free society must allow all people to hold their own beliefs and live as they please, providing they do not infringe the rights or liberties of others.
Mark Maney’s article, on the anti-conversion therapy law which has just been enacted across the Tasman in Victoria, highlights how that law is so hazardous to freedom it even restricts the freedom of gay people themselves…