Was Tony Abbott really nasty in the 1970s? And more muddle about gay people not being immortal…

I worked at The University of Sydney in 1977-1978 and my duties as a seconded lecturer in Dip Ed actually put me in contact with the SRC and Honi Soit. I really can’t remember whether or not Tony Abbott monstered anyone but as he was a crazy DLP person then – itself quite worrying – I probably ignored everything about him. I do recall the smell of marijuana hung about the SRC office, but I am sure Tony wasn’t breathing in at the time. In case overseas readers wonder what the hell this is about, go to Punch witness comes forward with tales of anarchy in the SRC.

Follow-up on Archbishop Jensen’s turn on QandA continues in today’s Letters in The Sydney Morning Herald.

Jensen spoke words of love not homophobia

I am a pastoral worker for Liberty Christian Ministries. I once identified as a gay man and lived actively as one for about five years. In that time I went to Anglican churches where Dr Peter Jensen was the archbishop, and I was frequently warned against living in sin. Though I resisted hearing that at times it never once made me feel suicidal or depressed: rather, I felt loved and safe (Letters, September 12).

I knew living as a homosexual was wrong even independently of what the Bible said because I had to have regular health checks to ensure I hadn’t picked up hepatitis, AIDS, or blood toxicity from the things I was doing. That is what the gay life involves – risky sex that puts life on the line. It diminishes life quality and life expectancy.

Health research bears out the reality of the risks of gay sexual practice. The 2010 national STD conference run by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in the US produced evidence that the rate of new HIV diagnoses among men who have sex with men is more than 44 times that of other men and that the rate of syphilis among this population is more than 46 times that of other men.

Peter Jensen’s words on Q&A were reasoned, reasonable and said in love because he wants, as I do, people to have freedom in Christ and live life to the full now. That’s not homophobic, that’s love.

 Haydn Sennitt  East Balmain

My brother died of AIDS in 1990 at the age of 46. It really gets to me that his early death is used as part of the evidence to suggest gay men and women have reduced life spans.

He was gay and he was one of earliest to be diagnosed as HIV positive, well before anything was known of this nasty virus, or any treatment program had been put in place. Do Jim Wallace, Peter Jensen et al record him as dying from a disease or as dying of a "gay lifestyle"?

Most HIV, like some cancers and some forms of brain and heart disease, is linked to human activity. We’ve learnt about the dangers of exposure to the sun and, today, most people wear sunscreen to prevent skin cancer. We’ve learnt about the dangers of HIV and today most people, both gay and straight, wear condoms to prevent the spread of the disease when having casual sex.

Sex and sun are two of the great Aussie pastimes but I don’t see either Jensen or Wallace providing figures from the ’60s and ’70s, stating that the "surfing lifestyle" was a cause of reduced lifespan.

They are, though, more than happy to use figures from the early ’90s to demonstrate the "gay lifestyle" causes a reduction in lifespan. Let us start treating disease as disease; not attributing blame because of lifestyle. And, in case you are not aware; being homosexual chooses you. It is not a lifestyle choice.

 Bruce Ingrey  Redfern

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With Malcolm, a friend, St Vincents Hospice, 1 May 2007

One up for Haydn Sennitt: “ I do think that Jim Wallace’s tenure at ACL head ought to be reconsidered and someone with a more tender, sensitive approach to the GBLT community should be appointed.” See also What to make of Wallace.

But the whole "ex-gay” phenomenon needs to be handled carefully. Here are some leads.

1. Ministries preying on gay shame by Michael Lallo in The Age, 8 April 2012.

DRIVING home from a date with another man, David Lograsso was tormented by a recurring thought: ”I’ll be going to hell for this.”

As a born-again Christian, he ”knew” that being gay was wicked, sinful and wrong. Desperate to change, the 27-year-old vowed to exert more self-control. To pray even harder. To do whatever it took to become straight…

Lograsso found his three programs on the internet. Two were support groups – Living Waters and Roundabout Ministries – and the third, Mosaic Ministries, involved prayer sessions and counselling. He also attended a weekend retreat in Sydney run by Liberty Christian Ministries.

The Sunday Age understands that none of these programs are run by accredited psychologists or psychiatrists. Critics, including medical professionals, say they can and do cause severe psychological harm….

Lograsso was in crisis. Anxious and depressed, he’d spend entire weekends in his bedroom. His self-esteem was in pieces and his faith was crumbling. ”I kept thinking, ‘God must not love me because he’s not answering my prayers’,” he says.

At his worst, he considered suicide.

Helen Kelly, producer of a new documentary about ”ex-gay” therapy called The Cure, says her research uncovered many participants of ”reparative” programs struggling with depression and self-harm. ”These groups never take responsibility for the fact that some people who’ve been through them commit suicide,” she says. ”They’re not registered and they have no duty of care.”

While some group leaders describe themselves as ”counsellors” or ”therapists”, such titles require no training and critics say many do not have the expertise to counsel emotionally vulnerable people…

2. Ex-gay’ Australia – New Zealand – Asia – Pacific . See 20 Questions for “Ex-gay” Ministry Leaders and those ‘helping’ people with unwanted same sex attraction.

3. Two Thirds of Ex-gay Ministries Disappear – 20 July 2012.

4.  Only the gay die young? Examining claims of shorter life expectancy for homosexuals by Warren Throckmorton, Associate Professor of Psychology at Grove City College and Fellow for Psychology and Public Policy at the Center for Vision and Values which is a part of Grove City College, April 2007.

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