Condemnation of the LGBTQIA+ Conversion Movement – 18 September 2020


Hannah Buchan, President


Content Warning: Homophobia, transphobia, religion, conversion practices.

At UMSU’s most recent students’ council a motion was passed condemning the LGBTQIA+ Conversion Movement. The motion and the text of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Change Efforts Survivor statement is below:


Conversion practices, sometimes referred to as “reparative therapy,” is any of several dangerous and discredited practices aimed at changing an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Conversion therapists use a variety of shaming, emotionally traumatic or physically painful stimuli to make their victims associate those stimuli with their LGBTQ identities.


Despite recent attempts to ban conversion practices (notably in Queensland and Victoria), conversion practices are not receding, rather they are entering the mainstream in particular churches. At least 10 organisations in Australia and New Zealand currently advertise conversion therapy. Instead of stamping out conversion practices, criminalisation has only pushed it underground.

To actually tackle conversion practices, survivors’ voices need to be platformed.


“The ex-gay/ex-trans movement is grounded in an ideology – it is not just a type of therapy that can be banned. While affirming faith leaders are needed to help drive change from within this movement, lawmakers and legal advocates who wish to curtail the movement must pursue strategies that seek to identify and counteract the influence of this ideology in the education and training, community, charity, non-profit and media spheres.”


Many queer students at the University of Melbourne are survivors of conversion practices, or are still subject to them. Not only should UMSU provide more support to these students, but UMSU also must publicly condemn a practice that causes years of lasting harm.


UMSU condemns any sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts to queer students, and commits to offering material solidarity and support to any survivor who should request it.


UMSU has affirmed the SOGICE survivor statement. The SOGICE survivor statement can be found here.