Queensland MP Fiona Simpson’s old comments claiming gay people can “grow into heterosexuality over time” are disturbing her political rivals who are concerned she may oversee community services in a possible Liberal National Party government.
A 2002 speech from Simpson (pictured) extolling the virtues of ‘ex-gay’ therapies offered by Exodus Ministries has been dredged up by a Bligh government minister, and now the LNP member is being challenged on whether she still believes gay people can and should be counseled into becoming straight.
Simpson’s speech to Parliament during the Discrimination Law Amendment Bill debate in 2002 included this assertion, pointed out the Brisbane Times – “Today I was talking with a particular gentleman who is a former homosexual. They have a compassionate understanding and a desire to get alongside people who choose and who want to leave the homosexual lifestyle.
“This is about offering them options and not imposing only one set of values on other people.”
Brisbane-basedPsychologist Paul Martin, who has lived through so-called ‘ex-gay’ therapy himself, says he’s very concerned when such services are offered, and hopes Simpson’s views have changed since her speech 10 years ago.
The ex-gay movement has the potential to psychologically damage innocent people and may be contribute to suicidal behaviour,” he points out.
Martin has worked with dozens of people over the last 25 years who have recovered from these programmes, and stresses that “They are some of the most psychologically damaged people I have ever worked with; many are survivors of suicide attempts.”
Exodus believes that homosexuality is a sin, evil and a psychological disorder. Their programs include ‘reparative therapy’ which seeks to repair damage from childhood which they say causes same sex attraction. There is no evidence to support this and in fact all of the major psychological associations around the world have made it clear that this is incorrect and potentially dangerous.
When a politician such as Simpson makes misguided comments about ex-gay therapies, it has the capacity to confirm these negative beliefs about themselves which can lead to depression, anxiety, substance abuse and self harm.”
The Brisbane Times’ story today has attracted a number of opposing views, many of them worryingly agreeing with Simpson’s 10-year-old endorsement of Exodus Ministries’ aims.
“Perhaps Mrs Simpson may grow out of being ignorant and uninformed,” typed one reader. “Voicing her personal views on this in parliament I find offensive as I’m sure she would if I was to offer suggestions about her and the woman she has become.” Others agreed, one labeling some NLP members as being “stuck in the ‘50s timewarp.”
But others hailed the MPs ‘courage’ at the way she addressed homosexuality: “Wow what courage Fiona Simpson has to publicize the reality that homosexuality is a developmental issue (as we all have) rather than something inherent. I so object to the proposal to redefine the word ‘marriage’ for the sake of 2% of the population.”
Here at Same Same we’re often concerned about the level of homophobic ignorance these sorts of stories dredge up, and hope that with time and care, anti-gay readers of the Brisbane Times can one day be relieved of their own “psychological disorders.”
We’ll attempt to contact Fiona Simpson to clarify her current views about ex-gay ministries.