Unpublished Opinion: The Bill that Offers No Change, No Alternative, Only Suppression
Once upon a time if Former Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson tweeted that a law before the Victorian parliament constituted the ‘biggest threat to our democratic freedoms in Australia’s entire legislative history’ someone may have heard. But the current modus operandi is not to hear and think but feel and flow.
Legislation criminalising discussions, (not abuse but discussions) whether parental, therapeutic or religious on issues of sexuality and gender, now flows unimpeded from one house to the next in Victoria’s parliament. Uphill it goes with little resistance. The expectation is it will cascade from the upper chamber and flow into our homes, schools, universities, workplaces and places of worship where ‘all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, will feel welcome and valued in Victoria’, no doubt flooded with an enabling love, ‘to live authentically and with pride.’
Well, that is everyone except those whose feelings are unwanted or cause them angst. Those who seek a helping hand to live more authentically out of their values will be legally forced to live out of their sexuality. The Andrews government have dictated this as the best way for them.
They won’t be valued, if even permitted, in Victoria. Sharing a personal transformation story as a result of Reintegrative Therapy, well that would be criminal unless it was in the mandated direction. The days of ‘each to his or her own’ are gone. Friends, counsellors, therapists, parents and faith leaders beware. Free will and consent are now irrelevant and not a license to offer professional counsel or even a personal prayer.
While values and choices may be very yesterday, feelings are very now. The Change or Suppression Practises Prohibition Bill 2020 is very concerned about affirming feelings, and of course that’s the only option. Yet ironically, they won’t allow anyone to affirm your feelings if those feelings happen to change.
Clinicians assisting individuals who feel ‘broken’ (people with unwanted feelings) often identify significant childhood trauma and neglect as gateway issues to their sexual responses and identity. When dealing with underlaying issues, Reintegrative Therapists note that sexual orientation can change. The National Association of Practising Psychiatrists (NAPP) also note in their submission to the Queensland Government, that sexual orientation, real desire, can and does change as other issues are addressed. But that won’t do in Victoria. No one can affirm that another is ‘broken’ or needs ‘fixing’ even if that’s how they feel. This is a group of people the government will not affirm.
Other democratic nations are starting to see where this is flowing and making efforts to turn the tide. The same sort of legislated ban in three US states was struck down by the federal appellate court which concluded that such laws violate the free speech guarantees of the US Constitution.
And when it comes to children, the most vulnerable in our society, governments should recognise the risks of affirming children according to feelings about sexual orientation or identity. While Victoria seeks to ban therapy for children, Finland’s Councils for Choices in Healthcare is recommending dysphoric children receive broad based psychological and psychiatric support and that this must be done at the school level. The UK case of Keira Bell should set a precedent in our own nation. At 23 Bell sued the clinic who she believes should have ‘challenged her more’ over her decision to transition to a male as a teenager. The three High Court judges found in her favour.
In a ruling, Dame Victoria Sharp, sitting with Lord Justice Lewis and Mrs Justice Lieven, said:
"It is highly unlikely that a child aged 13 or under would be competent to give consent to the administration of puberty blockers. It is doubtful that a child aged 14 or 15 could understand and weigh the long-term risks and consequences of the administration of puberty blockers."
What exactly does this bill hope to ban? Professor Patrick Parkinson has said the ‘therapies this bill seeks to ban have not been practiced since mid-1980’s. They have not been endorsed for 35 years or more.’ Professor John Whitehall has said the science being relied upon comes via a La Trobe Survey consisting of 15 anonymous, unverified, unsubstantiated replies. Who can even dispute that if discussion is banned.
So, what’s this all about? John Anderson nailed it in one when he said, ‘This is the biggest threat to our democratic freedoms in Australia’s entire legislative history.’ This bill claims it will stop harmful practises (we have little evidence of) yet in fact criminalises ‘discussions.’
Meanwhile, there is zero consideration for the real harm to fundamental freedoms, to adults with unwanted sexual attraction, to those with complex underlying mental health issues or trauma, to community relationships between parents, their children and teachers, between governments and health professionals, to those who choose to find their identity in their values rather than their sexuality, and most importantly the harmful pathway of an ‘affirmation only’ policy which administers hormone blockers to children which will ultimately end in castrations, mastectomies and a whole host of other health issues. You won’t be asked what you think about that, but Victorians can rest assured, you will be told how to feel.
When we are compelled by law to turn away family and friends seeking a helping hand with their unwanted feelings, declining any discussion or prayer request, this is completely at odds with the most basic principles of human kindness and an inclusive society.