Ambassadors and bridge builders international to hold candlight vigil for victims of ex-gay therapy
With Living Waters Australia (LWA), one of Australia's foremost and longest running ex-gay/conversion therapy programs closing this weekend, LGBTI advocates will be holding a vigil at Taylor Square to remember those who have suicided because of ex-gay/conversion programs and to highlight the toll faith/sexuality conflict can have on gay and lesbian people.
The vigil has been organised by Anthony Venn Brown, founder of Ambassadors and Bridge Builders International who said LGBT youth are at higher risk of suicide than their straight peers and the risk is even greater for LGBT people from faith backgrounds.
Venn-Brown believes the closure of LWA is significant in that it heralds the death knell for ex-gay conversion therapy in Australia.
"What is particularly significant is that LWA has been one of Australia's most prominent and long lasting organisations. In many ways LWA's closure is equivalent to Exodus International in the US closing its doors last year. For the last fifteen years ex-gay ministries have been in decline in this country. LWA's closure means we are near the end " Venn-Brown said.
Whilst ex-gay conversion therapists claim to only help those struggling with their sexuality,. and never cause harm to particpants, Venn-Brown says survivors of ex gay therapy tell a different story.
"The reason these groups can claim to have never harmed anyone is that they usually have no further contact with the people that left. They would have considered them to have not be committed enough or that they loved their 'sin' too much. I've seen the tragic results in hundreds of lives of those who ex-gay organisations would consider 'unsuccessful'.
Participants in these 'change is possible' programs are often emotionally and psychologically damaged. They left the program with a sense of failure. It can take years to work through the trauma, grief and the impacts of years of shame and self-loathing. Some have even taken their own lives. " Venn-Brown added.
Venn Brown said there is a huge toll - especially the families of those who have taken their own loves because of faith/sexuality conflict.
Venn Brown told SX the half hour gathering on Saturday night will focus on remembering those who were lost and providing support and encouraging those who are still in conflict.
The Vigil wil take place on Saturday 12 April 2014 at 7:00pm to 7:30pm on the Northern side of Taylor Square (next to the Oxford Hotel). What to bring: Candle, torch, rainbow paraphernalia. If possible waar something yellow to represent hope for a better future. All welcome including straight allies and supporters.