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Bo’s story

The incidents portrayed in this story are inspired by real stories, but all names and other identifying details have been changed.

‘It was harmful to hear that something that is deeply a part of me had another origin and could be fixed.’

‘Church and my faith were the supportive and accepting foundation of my life.

I grew up in a progressive Anglican family and went to Church every week.

When I started at university, I found an Evangelical Christian community who made me feel like I belonged.

What evolved though, was a culture of secrecy and shame and I felt I had to hide a lot of myself.

They organised talks about purity and discouraged practicing sex outside of marriage.

At the time, gay people couldn’t get married, and it made me wonder, what about them?

I began starting to realise a lot of things about myself – that I am queer – I am asexual and non-binary.

The group organised ex-gay speakers to talk against marriage equality and queerness being broken and sinful.

The group’s culture meant I created an inner world of complete shame which led to me having a breakdown.

I told my therapist that I was queer. My therapist told me that there were other reasons why I felt this way. They told me that was not in fact, asexual or non-binary and that it can be worked on – it can be fixed. I was told that if I worked on it, I would be able to engage is sexuality as a ‘normal’ person.

Nothing changed over time, and it was harmful to hear that something that was deeply part of me had another origin that could be fixed.

It took me time to finally accept who I am and to flourish.’

How does the law apply to Bo’s situation?

Under the Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Act 2021, it’s against the law to try to change or suppress someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

This means that the university group can’t organise talks and ex-gay speakers if it is directed towards Bo or any other member to try to change their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The speakers may also be engaging in a change or suppression practice if they know that the organisers have asked them to talk to the group for the purpose of changing the sexual orientation or gender identity of individuals in the audience.

However, if the organised talks and speakers speak generally about their views on sexuality and gender, and do not know of Bo’s or another member of the group’s sexual orientation or gender identity, then this would not be considered a change or suppression practice.

Bo’s therapist has engaged in a change or suppression practice by providing advice based on their own beliefs, for the purpose of trying to change Bo’s sexual orientation and gender identity.

The therapist is unable to use methods and treatments to try to change Bo’s sexual orientation and gender identity.

Are you in a similar situation?

You can make a report to identify a person or an organisation who has tried to change or suppress your sexual orientation or gender identity.

A report is made with the intent to:

  • show the harm of these practices
  • have your story heard
  • seek an outcome (facilitation, education or investigation)
  • stop these practices from happening.

Read more about how you can make a report.

Support services

Reading this story may have caused distress. These services can help:

Rainbow Door is a free specialist LGBTIQA+ helpline providing information, support, and referral to all LGBTIQA+ Victorians, their family, and friends.
Contact: 1800 729 367 or 0480 017 246 (SMS) or support@rainbowdoor.org.au

Beyond Blue provides 24-hour information, advice and support for people affected by anxiety, depression, and suicide.
Contact: 1300 224 636

A full list of affirming faith organisations, LGBTIQ support organisations and crisis and mental health services can be found on our ‘Have you experienced a change or suppression practice?’ page.

Read more about LGBTIQ rights

Change or suppression (conversion) practices

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