To summarise my last 20 years of experience, I have estimated that I have worked with around 4,000 individual survivors of formal conversion “therapy”. Separate from this, the number of people who have experienced faith and sexuality/gender identity conflict I have worked with is incalculable. The outcomes have remained the same, including mental health issues, depression, suicidal tendencies, and attempts.
Of course, even more tragic is the loss of lives through suicide; often young people gone in their prime, leaving family and friends devastated. The mental health and suicide impacts on LGBTQ people in Australia are disturbing and multiplied many times more than the general population.
As I have been pointing out for years , if you are an LGBTQ person from a faith background, the risks are multiplied once more because of several factors. It’s impossible for us to count the cost of religious LGBTQ suicide.
And what is the source of all this trauma and unnecessary suffering? Churches, religious institutions, Christian leaders and family members where rejection of science, misinterpretation of sacred texts and cultural biases have pre-eminence.
Considering the tragic impacts that religion and religious individuals have had on the lives of LGBTQ people, do we want to further protect them legislatively from creating more tragedy, trauma, and harm?
This Religious Discrimination Bill is a definite step backwards. If passed, this Bill will unleash unnecessary adversarial conflicts and disharmony which I know we will all come to regret. Should you require any additional information or clarity, I am happy to assist.
Anthony Venn-Brown OAM
Founder and CEO of Ambassadors & Bridge Builders International (ABBI)
Author of the bestseller ‘A Life of Unlearning – a preacher’s struggle with his homosexuality, church and faith‘
Honoured to be voted one of the 25 Most Influential Gay & Lesbian Australians (2007 & 2009)
Winner of 2015 ACON’s Health and Wellbeing Award and awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the LGBTIQ community (2020).