Australia: Here’s what it’s like to go through gay conversion therapy

“Please take this from me, I don’t want to be gay.” Brisbane man Johann De Joodt knows first hand the horrors of gay conversion therapy. A participant in numerous programs designed to purge his homosexuality during his twenties and thirties, De Joodt adopted a traumatising routine of church, sin and repentance that looped on repeat every week for 15 years.

The question of whether conversion therapy works was answered long ago: it doesn’t. Leading psychological associations in Australia and around the world have denounced therapy that attempts to change sexual orientation. Earlier this year, a report from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called for nations to ban the practice, describing it as “unethical, unscientific and ineffective and, and may be tantamount to torture”.

Partly as a result of these strident denouncements, the prevalence of such therapy has significantly declined in Australia. Around 40 providers across the country in 2000 have dwindled to just a handful still in action today. 

Johann De Joodt bristles at the description of gay conversion therapy as “nearly dead”. “Conversion therapy hasn’t ended in Australia,” he says. “It is alive and well.”  Read more via Buzzfeed