NEW ZEALAND: Confessing Anglican Bishop Condemns Prohibition of Conversion Practices
Unwarranted state intrusion
Bill is contrary to fundamental rights and personal autonomy
By Bishop Jay Behan
Special to Virtueonline
September 23, 2021
Bishop Behan was making his case against the Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Bill
1. Thank you for this opportunity to submit on the Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Bill (“the Bill”). This issue is deeply personal and significant for many people and my great desire is that we deal well pastorally with people, seeking their good. I apologise in advance if my submission gives any other impression; I am aware that trying to contend logically (and legally) can sometimes read as uncaring and impersonal, which is not at all my desire.
2. The Bill has laudable objectives. I support the prohibition on harmful and coercive conversion therapy and conversion therapies carried out without consent. The desire to protect and support vulnerable people who feel isolated, different and unloved is something we should all feel strongly about and work towards.
3. However, I respectfully submit that the Bill as it stands fails to achieve its objectives and goes too far in the following respects:
a. The Bill elevates state-mandated values above those of parents. Parents or legal guardians, especially those of faith, will risk criminal liability for raising their children according to their beliefs, ethics and conscience.
b. The Bill is contrary to fundamental rights and personal autonomy.
c. The Bill presents a false dichotomy that all gender affirmation is an unqualified good and all conversion therapies an unmitigated bad.
d. The Bill will adversely and disproportionately effect those it seeks to protect.
In this article, former ACANZP Anglican minister Jay Behan (recently ordained a Bishop in the separatist ‘Confessing Anglican Church’ here, by separatist American GAFCON/ACNA Archibshop Foley Beach) – as if to prove his separation from the traditional Anglican Church in Aotearoa/New Zealand – has filed an opinion from his group of fellow believers; in direct opposition to that of the official Anglican Church here (ACANZ) whose Maori and Pakeha Archbishops (together with several other New Zealand Anglican Groups) have sent letters of support to the N.Z. Government in favour of its Bill to outlaw what has become known around the world as ‘Gay Conversion Therapy’ .
Condemned by reputable psychotherapists – as being detrimental to both the mental and physical wellbeing in the lives of people, especially the young – who are coerced into such ‘Conversion Therapy; most Westem communities have banned the practice as unethical, even abusive.
Although Mr. Behan admits there are ‘Conversion Therapies’ that ARE harmful, he obviously still believes in the controversial theory of – in the words of some of its advocates – ‘Pray Away The Gay’, where, in the minds of its advocates, prayer and counselling may be all that is needed for a successful reversal of their innate same-sex attraction.
Mr. Behan also manages to provide statistics (in his original submission) from interested people who claim that homosexuality is an abnormal state of being, that can be ‘cured’ by conversion therapy. That this is manifestly untrue has been attested to by people who have done their very best to obtain a ‘cure’ for their homosexuality, some of whom, in despair at their failure to be ‘cured’ have been known to attempt suicide, an outcome that has alerted society and their immediate families to the inherent dangers of therapeutic attempts to reverse their given sexual identity.
It must here be acknowledged that there are people who, despite the fact that they discover themselves to be intrinsically homosexual, have managed, for their own good reasons – sometimes spiritual and sometimes for other reasons – to ignore their inner same-sex attraction. Indeed, some gay Christians have chosen to follow the traditional path of celibacy, in accordance with a category of people who choose to become a “eunuch, for the sake of The Kingdom of God”, so categorised by Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew 19:13., who will dedicate their self-imposed sexual abstinence to the service of God in a Religious Order, or – in the Roman Catholic Church – as a priest. This may make up a very samll number of dedicated Religious, but still a significant minority.
However, Jesus did also mention, separately, that there were eunuchs, who were so “from their mother’s womb”, which has been taken by some Christians to serve as an apt description of anyone who is intrinsically homosexual – not necessarily called to celibacy but also not necessarily called into service as a monk, nun, or priest in the Church.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand