With all the recent media attention about gay conversion therapy (GCT), one voice has remained silent; the Christian Counsellors Association of Australia (CCAA). A report released today reveals that two years ago, the Christian Counsellors Association of Australia, revised their code of ethics which stated that no members were to work with clients modifying or changing their sexual orientation.
The author of the report, Anthony Venn-Brown, of Ambassadors & Bridge Builders International (ABBI), reveals why the CCAA have been secretive and that their code of ethics is not always believed or followed.
The CCAA is the peak body for religious counsellors and therapists which registers professionally trained Christian counsellors and provides professional accountability.
The 30 page report, gives an in-depth, behind the scenes look at GCT in Australia. It includes communications between religious GCT advocates, the initial and long term impacts of individuals who’ve experienced GCT and the challenges that lie ahead to have the practice banned altogether.
Venn-Brown is very familiar with the subject of the report, being one of the first in the world to experience gay conversion therapy in a religious context. After numerous exorcisms attempting to be freed from his ‘homosexual demons’, in 1972 he spent several months in a residential program to turn from gay to straight. He details this experience in a chapter of his autobiography, A Life of Unlearning, which included a change in wardrobe, attempts to masculinise him and being watched consistently by a minder.
Ultimately Venn-Brown became a high profile preacher in Australia’s megachurches till he fell in love with a man at the age of forty, resigned from the ministry and came out.
Since 2000, Venn-Brown has worked with religious GCT survivors and worked to see organisations ‘ex-gay’ organisations close down in Australia by holding them accountable to their false claims. There is still much more to do according to him.
‘Seeing the formal ‘ex-gay’ organisations, like Exodus, close down was only phase one’ Venn-Brown said. ‘Our biggest challenge lies in the religious belief that ‘homosexuality is a sin’, still prevalent in evangelical and Pentecostal churches and being currently propagated by footballer, Israel Folau.’
‘I hope my report will be a positive contribution that will bring GCT to an end in Australia. But more importantly that like Alan Chambers, the former president of Exodus International, churches around Australia will say “we were wrong, forgive us” and the healing process for so many sexuality and gender diverse people from faith backgrounds can begin.’ Venn-Brown concluded.