One of the driving forces behind the ‘No’ campaign for same-sex marriage is Australian Christian Lobby Managing Director, Lyle Shelton, and he’s just given the okay to parents putting their kids in gay conversion therapy.
Speaking to political podcast Is it on?, Shelton said that while he didn’t agree with adults undergoing gay conversion therapy (read: not a thing that actually works), he thinks non-consenting children are fair game.
"I think anyone who wants to seek help for any issue they might be facing in their life should be free to do that," he told BuzzFeed News’ podcast.
"Should people be forced to go to conversion therapy? No, absolutely not. Now, children — they are under the care and responsibility of their parents, so I think if someone's a minor, it is up to their parents. And I think parental rights should be respected.
"There's obviously got to be context and care and compassion in all of these situations, but ultimately children are in the care and the legal responsibility of their parents."
So to break that down: No one should be forced to do anything against their will, except gay children. Noted.
Other Christian leaders immediately condemned his comments.
“Forcing children into ex-gay therapy is tantamount to child abuse. These programs are based on a fundamental lie, and are intrinsically homophobic,” said Rev Dr Margaret Mayman, Chair of Australian Christians for Marriage Equality in a statement.
“Sadly, Mr Shelton’s comments show that deep aversion to, and a refusal to accept the existence of, LGBTI orientation and identity is at the heart of the opposition to marriage equality for many,” Dr Mayman said.
Dr Pansy Lai, who featured in the first televised ‘No’ ad, came under fire earlier this month after a post on her Australian Chinese for Families Association website appeared to promote gay conversion therapy.
Dr Lai denies promoting such therapies but admits she doesn’t see any harm in people undergoing them.
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“Not true - there is no way in my website that we say people need to go through conversion therapies,” she countered.
“I’m just saying the study results. I’m not personally saying that.”
But, she added, “For some people at least who wish to change, the study shows there is no harm.
“I am saying there are studies that have studied some people who have undergone these treatments and it has the results ... that there is no harm or distress.”