Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has apparently ruled out dealing with conversion therapy, saying he is “not planning to get engaged in the issue.”
Often associated with religion, conversion therapy involves trying to “cure” a gay person or transgender person of their sexuality or gender identity, whether through therapy or more extreme tactics to make them heterosexual and cisgender.
Morrison, leader of Australia’s center-right Liberal Party, became Prime Minister on August 24. During an interview on radio station 3AW, he was asked about his thoughts on conversion therapy after LGBTQ Christians in the country mounted efforts to have the government ban it.
While Morrison said he didn’t support conversion therapy, he noted that “people should make their own choices about their lives.”
“I respect people of all sexualities, I respect people of all religions, all faiths. I love all Australians,” Morrison said, adding, “I’ve never been involved in anything like that, I’ve never supported anything like that, it’s just not an issue for me and I’m not planning to get engaged in the issue.”
The Australian Greens party slammed Morrison’s lack of commitment to the issue, saying he “must come out and commit to stamping out harmful conversion therapy.”
“Conversion therapies and sexual orientation change efforts are harmful and can have fatal consequences,” said Senator Janet Rice, Australian Greens’ LGBTQ spokesperson. “The basic premise of conversion therapy and sexual orientation change efforts is that LGBTIQ people can and must be changed, rather than being perfect and accepted for who they are.
“All LGBTIQ people should be able to practice faith without pressure to change or suppress their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression,” Rice added. “The Prime Minister must come out and work with survivors, the community and the Greens to ban these practices in Australia.”
Chris Csabs, a resident of Sydney who underwent conversion therapy between the ages of 16 and 19, told news.com.au, said Morrison’s response wasn’t “good enough.”
“It’s very easy to say you don’t support these things but it’s the ideology and messaging that permeates the religion and which is really quite common in society that needs to be challenged,” he said. “I don’t think a simplistic answer like the one Scott Morrison gave this morning is good enough.”
It’s not Morrison’s first blunder over LGBTQ rights. He recently drew criticism after admitting that he sends his children to private school to prevent them from being exposed to a pro-LGBTQ curriculum.
A high school program designed by the government of Victoria in Australia aim to build relationships by addressing and preventing “family violence, through the examination of topics around gender, power and respect.”
As part of the program, teenagers learn about and roleplay as youths of varying sexualities to better understand their needs and problems.
During an interview on 2GB, Morrison was asked by broadcaster Alan Jones if the thought of teens roleplaying as LGB teenagers “[makes] your skin curl?”
“It does Alan for this reason, the values I have as a parent, that Jenny and I have as parents, that’s where you get your values from,” Morrison responded. “I don’t want the values of others being imposed on my children in my school and I don’t think that should be happening in a public school or a private schools.”
Morrison, who sends his children to an independent Baptist school, wants to “protect” private schools to ensure they can choose whether or not to implement the program.
“It’s not happening in the school I send my kids to, and that’s one of the reasons I send them there,” he said.