A gay rights activist holds a rainbow flag while marching in downtown Belgrade September 27, 2013.
A gay rights activist holds a rainbow flag while marching in downtown Belgrade September 27, 2013. Reuters/Marko Djurica

Victorian Liberals have put a stop to a motion on “gay conversion therapy.” The proposal came from a Young Liberal branch linked to federal MP Kevin Andrews.

According to the Age, the motion, proposed seven months before the Victorian election, asked for the law to give parents and minors “full information about the psychological harms of social, media and surgical gender transitioning.” It would also ensure doctors can offer counselling “out of same-sex attraction or gender transitioning.”

The motion prompted outrage from LGBTI advocates within the party, with federal MPs describing it as a dark throwback to the past. That is not the only motion proposed that is decidedly anti-LGBTI.

Another motion submitted by the Geelong senior branch called for “sexual orientation” to be removed entirely from the federal Sex Discrimination Act. If passed, it would enable discrimination against the LGBTI community. It would call for the Commonwealth Sex Discriminatory Act to re-insert “man” and “woman” in the place of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity,” forcing people to define their gender as either male or female according to their biological and reproductive function.

Liberal MP Trent Zimmerman, who is gay, said both proposals not only damage their political party’s brand, they were also “out of touch.”

“These are the types of policies you would expect to find in the dark recesses of the 19th century or in the forums of the Australian Conservatives party — not in the modern Liberal Party,” he was quoted by the Age as saying on Sunday. “The real debate is whether so-called gay conversion therapy should be regarded as a form of child abuse.”

Victorian Liberals president Michael Kroger had intervened to put a stop to the motions, saying he contacted the Menzies-Warrandyte Young Liberal branch to tell them their proposal was “inappropriate.” He also contacted the other branch. Both are understood to have agreed to withdraw their motion.

‘Pray the gay away’ in Australia

Although gay conversion practices have been largely discredited and proved as ineffective and dangerous, they are still prevalent across Australia, according to a Fairfax Media investigation last month. According to the publication, the practices are hidden in evangelical churches and ministries, masked as exorcisms and counselling. They are also practiced in some religious schools and in the private offices of health professionals.

The investigation also uncovered about 10 groups that still operate on the conversion therapy.