The Uniting Church WA calls on the Western Australian Government to work closely with the LGBTQA+ community and survivors of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Change Efforts (SOGICE), including people of faith, to introduce legislation to protect people from harmful ‘conversion therapies’.
This practice, which encourages efforts to directly and indirectly attempt to change or supress a person’s sexuality or gender identity, has caused serious, ongoing, and tragic harm to those affected.
Most organisations that were established for this direct purpose have disbanded and issued apologies to those they harmed. However, there are still people and groups engaging in unregulated versions of the same activities.
The church has also agreed that the Christian practices of prayer and pastoral care, while important practices within the church, should not be used to harm or condemn any people, including LGBTIQA+ people.
The Uniting Church in Australia has had a long engagement with topics relating to sexuality and gender, holding a diversity of views within its membership.
The Uniting Church WA recognises that the church is not always a safe place for LGBTIQA+ people, and is therefore providing its congregations, schools and agencies opportunities to undertake an education and self-reflection process regarding LGBTQA+ conversion ideology and practice, to prevent future harm to people’s mental health and wellbeing.
A study by LGBTIQ Health has found that a ‘disproportionate number of LGBTIQ Australians experience poorer mental health outcomes and have higher risk of suicidal behaviours than their peers. These health outcomes are directly related to experiences of stigma, prejudice, discrimination and abuse based on being LGBTIQ.’
Mark Brisbane, Chair of the Uniting Church WA Social Justice Commission said, “The Uniting Church WA believes that every person is precious and entitled to love with dignity. It is this belief which forms the church’s call to work towards a vision of doing no further harm.”
The decision to make these calls was made by members of the 45th Annual Meeting of the Synod of WA, which was held from Friday 10 to Sunday 12 September at Scotch College.