New Australian health watchdog is set to crack down on ‘gay conversion therapy’ practices

A new health watchdog has been set up in Australia to investigate and crack down on people practicing ‘gay cure therapy’ in Victoria.

The Health Complaints Commissioner will ban unregistered practitioners who pose a danger to the public.

Karen Cusack, a lawyer heading the commission, will replace the former Health Services Commissioner to work towards eradicating unlicensed “health” providers.

Cusack will be given authoritative power to issue temporary and more permanent bans on providers that are not registered under law.

This position directly targets providers which are practicing gay ‘cure’ therapy – a form of therapy that attempts to change a persons sexuality through often emotionally damaging ways.

Nathan Despott, who runs an advocacy group of LGBT people of faith, praised the move to wipe out conversion therapy, calling the therapy “insidious”.

“What the ex-gay movement really looks like is small church groups and pastoral care in church offices after hours,” he said. “It looks like sermons from the pulpit over many years about why same-sex attraction is a form of brokenness or illness.

“This is something insidious, it happens in a discreet and secret way, and therefore needs investigation to understand the extent,” he added.

Australia’s government recently pledged to a zero tolerance approach to conversion therapy. Minister for Health, Jill Hennessy, said that discriminations against sexual identity was “abhorrent.”

Hennessy said: “The government is committed to combating discrimination and homophobia wherever it exists, and I find any discrimination against people on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender abhorrent.”

“We have zero tolerance for any person purporting to be able to ‘convert’ gay people through medical or therapeutic means,” she added. “Any attempts to make people feel uncomfortable with their own sexuality is completely unacceptable.”