“It baffles me that many people in the Christian church oppose banning a practice that only causes harm.”

Pastor Rob Buckingham.

Bayside Church

PO Box 500 Moorabbin 3189

99-101 Argus Street Cheltenham Victoria 3192

03 9585 2455

info@baysidechurch.com.au

baysidechurch.com.au

The Hon. (Chris) Christopher John Minns, MP.

Premier of NSW.

25 October 2023

Dear Premier,

I am delighted that The NSW Government is committed to banning LGBTQ+ conversion practices in NSW. I realise you have received some pushback on this from churches and Christian organisations, so I am writing to provide an alternative perspective. It baffles me that many people in the Christian church oppose banning a practice that only causes harm.

I am a Christian pastor who leads a vibrant church in Melbourne. My wife and I planted Bayside Church in 1992 and continue to lead it today. A small but very precious group of LGBTIQ+ people are members of our church.

While we have always welcomed gay people at Bayside Church, they were encouraged for many years to change their sexual orientation. We believed that Scripture condemned same-sex behaviour, so in my early years as a pastor, I sent several gay guys to Exodus, the largest of the ex-gay ministries, which operated for four decades (1976 – 2013). It acted as an umbrella organisation connecting groups seeking to help people who wished to limit their homosexual desires.

In the early 2000s, a young man I had sent to Exodus came to me after a service and told me the impact of that ministry on his life. He was depressed and suicidal, and his sexuality was unchanged. He’d given ten years of his life to reparative therapy, which did not work. His story got me thinking and asking questions. I found that his experience was everyone’s experience with that ministry – a negative impact without changing their sexuality.

For decades, many Exodus leaders and graduates claimed they were no longer gay. Some got married as proof of their conversion. Time would tell that this was wishful thinking (at best) or dangerous lies that would lead hundreds of thousands of men and women through years of destructive processes. Seven hundred thousand people in the USA alone have endured such practices. The outcome was depression, suicide, broken marriages, and abandoned children. Jesus said, “You will know them by their fruits.” The fruit of these ministries is appalling. YouTube features many apologies from former ex-gay ministry leaders.

In 2012, Exodus president Alan Chambers renounced conversion therapy, saying it did not work and was harmful. The following year, Chambers dissolved the organisation and apologised for the pain and hurt their programs had caused. Even though Exodus no longer exists, some of the smaller ministries do. That is why governments have stepped in and banned this harmful practice.

I encourage you to resist the pressure of church leaders and Christian organisations and to progress with your plan to ban LGBTQ+ conversion practices in NSW.

If I can assist you with this, please contact me.

Yours truly,

Rob Buckingham

Senior Minister

Bayside Church, Melbourne

Bayside’s inclusion statement HERE.

The journey began HERE.