In Victoria, Government by Deceit and Deception

The Victorian Change and Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill 2020 has passed the lower house and may be voted into law in February 2021. The Bill ostensibly targets cruel, coercive and degrading therapies to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, but in the process also prohibits all requested, non-coercive therapies. It seeks not only to regulate the counselling of pastors and the discussions parents have with their own children, but to prohibit and punish conversations and advice about mainstream moral beliefs. This amounts to the most radical attack on parents and church in any democratic country in the world.

The Bill is a deception practised on the people of Victoria by its own government. It would appear that the Minister for Health formed a preconceived plan and has then been party to an elaborate ruse of ‘consultation’ to bring this about. What is the evidence for this?

1/ The Health Complaints Commission seems to have been created with this end in mind.

A document from the Department of Justice and Community Safety (DJCS) states as much. The agenda of the Victorian government therefore was already formed in 2016, when the Health Complaints Act (HCA) was passed to create the position of Health Complaints Commissioner (HCC) empowered to investigate matters raised by the minister, not just complaints they received in the course of their operations. Three years later, a DJCS questionnaire entitled ‘Legislative option to implement a ban on conversion practices discussion paper’ stated that ‘The Health Complaints Act 2016 (HCA) was intended to enable the HCC to respond to gay conversion practices where they are performed by a health service.’ Perhaps they have said just a little too much!

2/ The inquiry was created by the Minister, not driven by complaints.

In 2018 the Victorian Minister for Health formally instructed to the HCC to inquire into conversion therapy, “despite the fact that since the Health Complaints Commission was set up in February, 2017 no one had come forward with a formal complaint about any incidents of harm from counselling out of same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria.”

3/ There has been no transparency in the consultation process. The HHC report was not made public.

Incredibly, the HCC produced no public report, only a flimsy two page executive summary in November 2018 that was critical of conversion therapy and advocating legislative change. The summary draws attention to the three countries in the world where there are laws against involuntary conversion therapy. The summary makes no mention of parents, and ‘religious freedoms’ are specifically excluded from the report.

4. We are told that the Minister was greatly influenced also by a second report, known as the HRLC report.

But the HRLC report is worthless. Yet, although compromised by its selective data-gathering, by its patent bias, and, most seriously, by the lack of transparency in its funding, it has been accorded preferential significance by the minister.

We are told that the minister formed the view that urgent legislative change was required on the basis of the HHC report, received in October 2018, and a second ‘report’ received in November 2018, Preventing Harm, Promoting Justice: Responding to LGBT conversion therapy in Australia, co-produced by the then Latrobe Gay and Lesbian Health and the Human Rights Law Centre. This report declares itself to be funded by Latrobe University.

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The report’s methodology sought testimonies of gay and lesbian ‘survivors’ with grievances against religious groups. As a result the report recommended legislation to stop parents and ministers of religion talking informally with children about these matters. While personal testimonies are powerful in any context, a sample size of fifteen recruited from LGBTI networks and social media is statistically meaningless and cannot be presented as a justification for legislation that has the temerity to regulate the mainstream religious advice of pastors, rabbis, and imams to their own flocks, and of parents to their own children. 

But here’s the real twist. The Latrobe Gay and Lesbian Health (GLHV) was a unit in the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS) at Latrobe.  The 2018 annual report for ARCSHS declares ‘Formerly known as GLHV@ARCSHS, the newly renamed Rainbow Health Victoria is funded by the Victorian Government to improve the health and wellbeing of LGBTI Victorians and the care they receive.’ This disingenuous report, funded by the Victorian government itself, now has become a key reason for the government to act urgently. So much for consultation!

5/ The process goes to extraordinary lengths to coverup the implicit deceptions.

This HRLC report is nothing but a flawed submission, one that was never made to the HHC. Self-described as a ‘major report’, it found its way into the minister’s hands just at the right time, and despite the embarrassment that it is a government-funded attack on religion, the minister has not hesitated to deem it an extraordinary influence in her decision-making. This must call into question not only the minister’s judgment but also her motives.

The later Department of Justice and Community Safety (DJCS) consultation, drawing heavily on the HHC report, and Latrobe Gay and Lesbian Health/Human Rights Law Centre report, appears to complete the masquerade.  The DJCS report made repeated scrupulous reference to the HRLC (Human Rights Law Centre) report, but without mentioning its funding, co-authorship, and recruitment methods. This sham consultation conceals the extraordinary lengths to avoid the light of objective evaluation revealing the genesis of this legislation.

The Bill has been vigorously advanced with a minimum of information, time and transparency. Even MPs received only a memorandum explaining the language of the Bill while presenting as a given the need for most urgent legislation to protect the vulnerable.

In Queensland, a transparent parliamentary inquiry was created, leading to significant modification of their 2020 legislation that focused only on professional conversion therapies. This is standard practice for controversial legislation. But not in Victoria.  

6/ In 21st Century Australia, cruel and coercive conversion practices are a myth.

The Bill makes wildly exaggerated claims of terrible practices in order to shut down all opposed to its underpinning ideology. It purports to address cruel, coercive and degrading therapies to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. This language brings visions of confinement, unrequested hypnosis, verbal abuse and humiliation, surgery, hormonal medications … the whole toolkit of Dr Frankenstein.   

Yet such gothic conversion practices are a myth, and ‘can hardly be considered a scientifically responsible basis for legal prohibitions’, so writes the editor of the Journal of Human Sexuality. He continues (emphasis added):

The scholars and activists who purvey these prevalence statistics appear more than willing to create the impression that an astronomical level of LGBT exposure to the worst coercive and aversive behavioral interventions has occurred and is still taking place. Such claims are occurring four decades after such practices have ceased to be utilized by professionals to modify sexual orientation, even by therapists still willing to explore sexual attraction and gender identity fluidity with clients who request this.

If the Bill were concerned about coercive practices, even though already unlawful, they would be its redundant focus. This Bill, however, prohibits non-coercive and requested therapies as well. It prohibits all religious counselling, professional treatment and parental advice. It even prohibits approaches to groups such as Courage International or the Changed Movement, with proven track records of effective change support for those who ask.

7/ The talk of human rights is a furphy: sexual orientation and gender beliefs are not, properly speaking, human rights.

The Bill presents itself as champion of human rights. Enforcement will be in the hands of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission. What can be wrong with defending human rights? Again, this furthers the elaborate masquerade.

The wording of the Bill evokes the Yogyakarta Principles as justification for gender ideology and sexual expression. Yet the very architect of the Yogyakarta Principles, Michael O’Flaherty, admits that sexual orientation and gender beliefs are not human rights.  In speaking to the ILGA Conference in Lithuania in 2007, he explains,

We have human rights because we exist, not because we are gay or straight, and irrespective of our gender identities.

It is true to say: ‘I have human rights if I play cricket, if I smoke, or if am in prison.’ But it is not true to claim a human right to play cricket, to smoke, to go to prison, to be gay, trans, or heterosexual. It’s faulty logic or intentionally deceptive.

In any case, the Yogyakarta Principles are not worth the paper they are written on. There were only 29 signatories, and it was rejected by the UN General Assembly and mainstream feminists who denounce gender fabrications as opposed to what is truly female: ‘One cannot on one hand claim to be in support of feminism while also claiming there is no such thing as women.’ The views of JK Rowling and of Germaine Greer against gender ideology are also well publicised.

8/ Neither the Minister nor the Bill seem interested in reality but in advancing an unsound ideology.

The Bill disregards the sociological and scientific realities of sexual orientation and gender identity.  As neither sexual orientation nor gender dysphoria are mental illnesses, the explanation for them must either lie wholly in our genes and in epigenetic factors beyond our control, wholly in our free choices, or in a combination of both: certain genetic dispositions predisposing but not predetermining desires and behaviour.

It is well established that neither same sex attraction nor gender dysphoria are wholly attributable to genes. Identical twin studies show this. For example, one Australian study published in 2000 found that if one twin identifies as gay, only about one in nine genetically identical siblings will also identify as gay. Further, a 2019 study in Nature found that the established psychological assumptions about the genetic components of same sex attraction were simply wrong:

… on the genetic level, there is no single dimension from opposite-sex to same-sex preference. The existence of such a dimension, in which the more someone is attracted to the same-sex the less they are attracted to the opposite-sex, is the premise of the Kinsey scale, a research tool ubiquitously used to measure sexual orientation.

Professor Andrea Ganna, a geneticist at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, who led the study stated simply ‘There is no ‘gay gene’. Rather, sexual and gender preferences result from an interplay of certain genetic and epigenetic dispositions with one’s environment and choices.  Choice plays an even greater role in manifested sexual behaviours. As a consequence of this interplay of nature and choice, pathways of thought, desire and behaviour are established and consolidated. These pathways will necessarily be open to future change through voluntarily sought, appropriate interventions.

Such self-conditioned neuroplastic modification of desires, behaviour and capacities is a primary mechanism in stroke recovery, learning to play the piano, establishing online and social habits, overcoming or succumbing to discouragement, or in following or choosing to re-condition one’s desires. In short, self-determined neuroplastic modification is present wherever choices and patterns of behaviour intersect. To ban the possibility of conversion therapy is to be ignorant of the understanding we now have of how desires and behaviours are neurobiologically established. For a legislator, such ignorance is culpable; it will deny alternatives to some of our most vulnerable people, and open the State to class actions for neglect of duty of care. 

9/ Ideology trumps children in Victoria.

Sadly it will be the children who are most damaged from all this. The architects of the Bill ignore the weight of international discontent with the gender insanity that has filled the minds and scarred the bodies of too many young persons already. Blind Freddy can see that the more airplay a society gives to gender dysphoria, the more it will become an issue. The more social media and entertainment are sexualised, the more young people will define their lives around sex. It’s obvious.

In most recent developments, the overreach of advocates of transitioning is now being called out by US and UK courts. On December 1, 2020, the UK High Court ruled that children under 16 are “unlikely to be able to give informed consent” to conversion therapy. Less than two weeks earlier, the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals struck down conversion therapy bans in Florida. One male-to-female transitioning US teenager, in bitterly regretting their surgery, described it as ‘… a Frankenstein hack job’.

The focus on coercive practices is a masquerade. The Bill trades away the futures of vulnerable children in a brazen attempt to normalise a radical sexual agenda, to erode parental rights, and to establish a certain regulation of religion. The Bill stitches up a case against parents and religion, fuelled by deceit and ideology without basis in science or objective transparent consultation.  The promoters of the Bill are neither interested in facts and reality, nor in the welfare of the most vulnerable, but only in achieving their ends.


Dr Andy Mullins teaches formation of character in the Masters program at the University of Notre Dame Australia. His doctorate investigated the intersection of neuroscience and moral behaviour. He is the author of Parenting for Character. He may be contacted at apjm.vic@gmail.com

9 thoughts on “In Victoria, Government by Deceit and Deception

  • Michael says:

    I am reminded of a quote from Robert Heinlein:
    “It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so, and will follow it by suppressing opposition, subverting all education to seize early the minds of the young, and by killing, locking up, or driving underground all heretics.”

    And am also reminded of Roger Scuton’s defences against the truth, one of which is the creation of false expertise, in which “the strategy is to invent experts, backed by all the apparatus of scholarship, research and ‘peer review,’ and … designed to bury a foregone conclusion in a mound of pseudo-scholarship.”

  • Stephen Due says:

    One has to hope that the intellectually-indolent medical profession in Australia will begin to stand up to the delusion-driven promoters of the gay and transgender movement.
    Children deformed by transgender medical and surgical ‘therapy’ – that’s where the real abuse is actually happening – should in justice be able to sue the doctors who have ruined their lives and the governments that made it possible.
    It is pretty obvious that progressive socialist government policy is driven in practice by activists representing minority cults. We are seeing precisely that unfolding today in the US with President Biden at the helm. He was elected by moderates, but is controlled by radicals. Ditto Daniel Andrews.

  • ianl says:

    Andrews, with his more influential Ministers, politicised senior police and bureaucrats, is deliberately establishing a firm beach-head of thorough “progressive” collectivism in metropolitan Melbourne. He has no hesitation in pushing it as hard as possible and is seen to be doing so worldwide – a solid beach-head in Australia. Of course he enjoys the kudos. Covid-19 panic helped his progress immeasurably.
    He has no opposition except the ineffectual within his own Govt (not the invisible, cowardly Libs). Through the silly “National Cabinet”, the country’s tax-payers are funding him.
    Throwing one’s hands up in horror at these outrages is just another form of virtue-signalling since it achieves nothing, nor is it designed to. Constant court actions, crowd-funded, will slow him down (each time a contra court action became imminent, he modifies laws sufficiently to neuter the threat) … perhaps long enough for his own internal enemies to make headway.

  • Peter Marriott says:

    Thank you Dr. Mullins, you’ve given me much food for thought and I must say it’s very bad food. I remain amazed that a person like Andrew’s can get anywhere near a position of authority in Australia, and has even been able to survive with mind intact long enough to do so. He seems hell bent on destroying everything good about our whole civilisation, a total destroyer, sort of in the mould of the French and Pol Pot Revolutionaries and I also think certain types of criminals seem to have a similar mind, totally wrapped up in their own invincibility and driven to continue with ever more extreme acts, devoid of a civilising conscience. These sorts of people down through history seem usually to be eaten up and destroyed by the very same monster they’ve created, and Andrews seems to be fast creating a monster….we can only hope it destroys him soon, and the other creatures he’s created around him. Michael, great quote from Roger Scruton and I can’t seem to trace where he wrote it, but I do know that his intellect and philosophy is sorely missed now….by me anyway.

  • Stephen Due says:

    While progressive socialism loves to parade its fine moral feelings – as Daniel Andrews amply demonstrates – its actual policies are socially destructive. The Left has mistaken moral sentiment, which is fluid and unreliable, for sound moral principles. Today there is no reliable source of sound morality operating in Australian society other than conservative Christianity. For this reason the progressive socialist movement is profoundly anti-Christian. Its hatred of Christianity is not driven by some lofty intellectual atheism or some enlightened philosophical system of ethics. This is not about what the Left piously calls ‘human rights’. Rather this is about a visceral desire to stamp out anyone seeking to restrain those whose real objectives are unlimited sex and power. This is not new. It is the reason John the Baptist was thrown in a dungeon and murdered there. This is human nature in action. The biblical writers warned that unrestrained human nature destroys communities. Nothing has changed. If you sow the wind of immorality, you will reap the whirlwind of social catastrophe as surely as night follows day.

  • Ian MacKenzie says:

    Until I’d read this, and John Whitehall’s article in the Spectator, I hadn’t realised quite how far Cultural Marxism had gone in Danistan. Whitehall mentions Melbourne-based Coalition Against Unsafe Sexual Education (CAUSE), who submitted 78 declarations from people who testified to help they had received from compassionate counsellors in dealing with the burden sexual pre-occupations. This compared with the 15 anonymous declarations used by the La Trobe report the Andrews Government used to justify the legislation. The CAUSE declarations were ignored; clearly once gain the ideological fix was in. Based on past performance, we can expect that those whose lives are destroyed by this legislation to be ignored, swept under the carpet or cancelled. The sexual abuse of children in Victoria is set to continue.

    I am very thankful that I have no family in Victoria and I sympathise deeply with those who have young children in the Victorian education system. I would recommend that anyone who has the resources move out of Danistan, not to escape the Change and Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Act as that will soon be illegal, but rather to escape the Cultural Marxism that Dan and his cronies are progressively implementing.

  • Nezysquared says:

    I’ll say it again. Victorians voted for this man. Democracy become Danocracy. I’m sure it works for all you Melburnians….

  • terence.dwyer says:

    What surprises me is how silly or absent the Law Societies and Bar Associations are in pandering to this sort of legal nonsense. Whatever one thinks, crimes must be clearly defined and the burden of proof beyond all reasonable doubt must be on the prosecution. Full stop.

  • norsaint says:

    I wonder if Victorians did actually vote for him? The Dominion vote counting machines are being used in this country in some states, so I believe. I reckon they were used for the queer marriage census too. The much hoped for result by Turnbull & Co was summarily announced. Scrutineers anyone?

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