Category Archives: News

PRESS RELEASE: UNA WELCOMES VICTORIAN CONVERSION PRACTICES PROHIBITION BILL

8 December 2020

Uniting Network, the Uniting Church’s LGBTIQ Network welcomes the proposed legislation in Victoria titled the ‘Change and Suppression (conversion) Practices Prohibition bill’ and urges particularly Victorian Uniting Network members to show their support for this bill by writing to local MPs in support for this legislation.

Jason Masters, Co-Convenor comments, “Uniting Network welcomes this long-awaited bill and as partners of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Change Efforts (SOGICE) Survivors Statement, we know it will make an important difference in the lives of many LGBTQ+(*) people. We call on other states to follow this example so there is national protection for LGBTQ+ people.”

The SOGICE Survivors Network asserts that conversion practices are far more prevalent in Australian faith communities than has previously been understood, particularly when including informal conversion practices that occur in pastoral care contexts.

Uniting Network believes that this bill moves towards the protection of LGBTQ+ individuals from harmful practices which occur in both formal settings but also in informal practices of pastoral care, prayer ministries and small groups. In preparation for this bill, there has been careful work to hear the stories and experiences of both survivors of conversion practices and religious leaders.

Nicole Mugford the Victorian representative on the Uniting Network Executive says “This bill is such a vital piece of legislation for LGBTQ+ people. It acknowledges the harm caused by both formal and informal conversion practices and the underpinning false and misleading claims and causes that are harmful and unscientific. LGBTQ+ people including LGBTQ+ people of faith should be free to practice their faith, live their life and participate in all aspects of society, without being treated as if they are ‘disordered’ or ‘broken’.”

We are very concerned that many conservative Christian groups will campaign against this vital piece of legislation claiming it represents and attack on religious freedom and also adults rights to seek religious counsel. Uniting Network know that many LGBTQ+ people have subject themselves to both formal and informal conversion practices in the past because they are striving to be accepted by the communities they grew up in, when those same communities reject their natural sexual orientation and gender identity which cannot be changed and therefore ultimately reject LGBTIQ+ people. What we know is that God loves all people, as they are. Conversion Practices in any form is abusive and leads at best to long term mental health issues, at worst suicide.

Rev Leanne Jenski & Jason Masters (Co-Convenors)

For further information, please contact Jason Masters, National Co-Convenor on 0407780110 jasonmasters@me.com or Nicole Mugford Victorian Representative on 0412 317 075 Or nicole.mugford@hotmail.com

(*) Please note, that religious LGBTQ+ change and suppression practices have not included forced medical interventions on people born with intersex variations. Hence the focus on “LGBTQ+” but not “I” practices. Although, of course, some intersex people are LGBTQ+ and have been subject to religious LGBTQ+ change and suppression practices.

Download full press release here.

UNITING NETWORK EXPRESSES CONCERN REGARDING TIME FOR CONSULTATION ON RELIGIOUS FREEDOM EXPOSURE DRAFTS

Uniting Network, the LGBTIQ network within the Uniting Church in Australia, expresses its concern around the short period to respond to the Exposure Drafts on Religious Freedom and Associated Legislation released today.

Co-convenor Rev. Peter Weeks commented that “It is our view that there is no need or demonstrable evidence for new religious freedom legislation. It is our position that existing legislation that permits discrimination against LGBTIQ people in religious organisations is not only wrong but not theologically sustainable.”

Rev. Weeks further commented, “The Liberal National Coalition Government put the LGBTIQ community through an unnecessary and vitriolic postal survey campaign over an extended time period. That process created significant mental health issues for the LGBTIQ community that are still reverberating within the community today.”

“The Ruddock Inquiry was held in secret, and the final report withheld from the community for an extended period. During the development of these proposed pieces of legislation, there has been extensive consultations with communities of faith in developing these drafts, however there has been no consultation with the LGBTIQ community, who are the clear targets of these draft legislation.”

“There is just over a month for the community to comment on the exposure drafts which are extensive and their implication to the LGBTIQ community potentially severe.

We strongly call on the Prime Minister and the Attorney General to undertake a significant consultation period with the LGBTIQ community and delay any attempts to bring legislation to Parliament until the middle of 2020 at the earliest.”

Uniting Network will provide additional information and details on our specific concerns with the draft legislation once we have had an opportunity to digest and analyse them thoroughly.

     **** END STATEMENT ***

OTHER BACKGROUND INFORMATION FOR MEDIA:
Contact Jason Masters, Secretary – 0407780110, jasonmasters@me.com

Resources for Open and Affirming Congregations.
The Uniting Church LGBTIQ network has launched a new suite of educational resources for congregations, study groups and individuals. The resources cover a range of topics from how to become “open and affirming” to queer young people, children, language, gender identity, sexuality and the Scriptures. All can be downloaded from http://www.unitingnetworkaustralia.org.au/open-and-affirming-project/

UNITING NETWORK EXPRESSES CONCERN IN RELATION TO PRIME MINISTER MORRISON’S COMMENTS AROUND CRICKET AUSTRALIA’S TRANSGENDER POLICY

Uniting Network, the LGBTIQ network within the Uniting Church in Australia expresses its concern around the commentary attributed to Australia’s Prime Minister Morrison concerning the release earlier this week by Cricket Australia of its policy for transgender athletes local to elite levels.

Co-convenor Hannah Reeve commented that “the Prime Minister, since coming to office, has made some negative comments concerning transgender people, a community who have some of the highest suicide rates in our society.”

Hannah further commented, “Uniting Network welcomed the policy position of Cricket Australia as a fair and balanced approach to ensure the inclusion of transgender people in their sporting code.”

Secretary of Uniting Network, Jason Masters, added “We know from the global sporting study “Out on the Field”[i] that LGBTIQ people leave sport due to the way they perceive being treated as an LGBTIQ sportsperson.  Eighty percent of the Australian study participants stated experiencing or witnessing homophobia in sport. We also know that one of the mechanisms to improve people’s mental health is engaging in sporting activities. On the one hand, the Prime Minister is very concerned, appropriately, around mental health issues across Australia, and we are thankful the Prime Minister in his election promised to increase funding for LGBTIQ mental health services. It is disappointing that the Prime Minister on the other hand is effectively adding to the mental health issues of transgender people by making, what we at Uniting Network believe, are not fully informed and inappropriate comments.”

Jason Masters stated that “Cricket Australia is not the trailblazer in this space, and many other sporting codes already have transgender inclusion policies with sports as an example as Volleyball Australia having policies for addressing transgender people at elite levels dating before 2012[ii]

Jason Masters concluded “part of our disappointment is that earlier this year the Australian Human Rights Commission, Sports Australia and The Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports issued the “Guidelines for Inclusions of transgender and Gender Diverse People in Sport”. I call on Mr Morrison to be aware of where the sporting sector is moving in this area, and more generally around the inclusion of transgender people in all aspects of our society.”

Finally, Hannah stated “As a community of Christian LGBTIQ people we call on all to be respectful and inclusive of transgender people. We would be delighted to meet with the Prime Minister to further discuss our concerns with him.”

Download a PDF copy of this statement here.


[i] http://www.outonthefields.com

[ii] http://nswvolleyball.com/images/members/MPP_27_July_2012.pdf

Media Release | Open and Affirming resources launched at Synod meeting

A suite of 15 new resources have been launched with the aim of supporting Uniting Church congregations which seek to fully affirm LGBTIQ people, same-sex couples and families.

“Uniting Network is proud to have produced a comprehensive series of resources on LGBTIQ related topics to assist congregations and faith communities who are looking to explore what it means to be inclusive and affirming,” announced National Co-Convenor, Hannah Reeve.

“The resources address issues such as coming out, gender diversity, rainbow families, language, marriage and queer young people. These are important pastoral and justice issues for church members,” stated Ms Reeve.

The series also contains guidelines for becoming an Open and Affirming congregation, an overview of current Uniting Church policies and a discussion of human sexuality and the Bible.

Ms Reeve thanked and congratulated the Rev Dr Rod Pattenden who co-ordinated the series, with the support of a team based in Newcastle which included the LGBTI Project Officer with Uniting NSW/ACT, Claire Allen.  “The team have done a superb job in covering a diverse range of topics, in leaflets which are concise, readable and relevant at this time for our church and beyond.”

The Open and Affirming resources are available at www.unitingnetworkaustralia.org.au or by request to affirming@unitingnetworkaustralia.org.au

Contact Hannah Reeve, 0438 386 383