The Christian group made headlines in Australia when Community Services Minister of the country Karen Struthers, criticized a Liberal National Party MP and state shadow minister for communities and women Fiona Simpson, for a speech she made in 2002 in which she expressed support for Exodus ministry which claimed it could help people "grow into heterosexuality." According to Star Observer
, Fiona Simpson, in 2002, advised people struggling with homosexuality to contact the "ex-gay" organization Exodus ministry, which she claimed could "cure" homosexuality.
reports Fiona Simpson said "people can grow out of the homosexual lifestyle thanks to efforts by compassionate support groups such as Exodus Ministries International.'"
reports attention was refocused on Fiona Simpson's 2002 statement when she opposed Deputy Premier Andrew Fraser's plans to introduce a bill legalizing "same-sex" marriage.
Paul Martin, former leader of Exodus ministry, came out to refute Fiona Simpson's statement after it raised a controversy in the Australian parliament. Paul Martin,who describes gay people who have been made to believe they have been cured of their "illness" as the "most damaged people I have ever worked with," says the methods used in Exodus ministry for "curing" homosexuality include exorcism, hugging, behavioral management and heterosexual marriage counseling.
The former leader of Exodus ministry said he was appointed lead counsellor at the Melbourne branch of Exodus Asia Pacific in the late 1980s. He is now a psychologist at Brisbane's Centre for Human Potential. He accused the Christian ministry of promoting homophobia and dangerous therapies claimed to "cure" homosexuality.
Paul Martin, according to Brisbane Times
, believes the popularity of groups claiming "cure" therapies for homosexuality in Queensland, Australia, was because in-spite of outward appearances of tolerance of homosexuality and issues of "same-sex" marriage, there is, in Queensland, a culture of "internalized anti-gay sentiment."
Paul Martin said the message of Exodus ministry,
"...stems from the idea that homosexuality stems from a childhood love-deficit, that you weren't loved enough by your father and so crave love from men, or that you were sexually abused; basically that homosexuality comes from a bad place, that homosexuals are damaged people, and that Exodus will heal your brokenness...Ex-gay ministries [like Exodus] see homosexuality as a sin, as something that is evil, and a disorder that can be cured.”
Paul Martin, according to Brisbane Times
, said gays under the "gay cure" program the Exodus ministry offers suffer severe conflicts and internalized homophobia expressed in self-loathing and a desire to to be cured of "burden of sin sexuality." He said gays who enrolled for anti-gay treatment in the ministry were taken through various programs involving prayer groups, counseling and exorcism to "cast out the demons" in them. The therapies, according to Paul Martin, include "masculinization" and "feminization" therapies in which the gay or lesbian was trained to dress and behave more "appropriately," that is, "like the straight man or woman they were supposed to be."
Martins, who said the "patients" were subjected to intense pressure to form heterosexual relationships, described how gay "patients" pronounced "cured" were handled:
“We'd parade men who went through the program and got married around like they were champions, and they'd all say their lives were better since they committed to God and enjoyed the sort of relationship God intended – with a woman, having children...But you'd then have a conversation where they admitted their lives were far more painful now they were living this even greater lie – they were burdened with guilt because they were hurting the woman they were married to, or engaging in desperate sex acts in public toilets or bushes that were even further from their belief system..."
Paul Martin said the contradictions he observed in efforts at "curing" gay people and the results obtained, along with his own personal homosexual orientation forced him to leave the group. Twenty-five years after he left, he is now a gay activist campaigning against "gay healing."
reports social health workers in Queensland, Australia, admit anti-gay feelings and attitudes persist. Executive director of Queensland Association for Healthy Communities (QAHC), cites a report released last year which showed the three most homophobic electorates in Australia were in Queensland.
The report, according to Brisbane Times
, was based on responses to a survey statement: "I believe homosexuality is immoral."
The director of QAHC said:
"...outdated homophobic attitudes still prevail and one has to point out the damage done to people living in state were homosexuality was a crime until 1990 – it's a cumulative damage, it's minority stress, it's people dealing with long-held feelings they were less equal than others.”
reports that in April, a Catholic school at Caboolture, banned a group affiliated to the Exodus ministry from using its facilities. The group had been featuring an American ex-gay speaker Adam Hood, who was testifying to how anti-gay therapy helped him reverse his sexual orientation and become a happily married and heterosexual man. Adam Hood, according to Brisbane Times
, recommended gays should be quarantined because they were "gangrene" that could infect heaven.
Paul Martin, however, comments on the claim that gay people can be cured. He says the claim is as ridiculous as,
"...(saying to) a white person they can be black."
reports Paul Martin, who is a specialist in same-sex attraction and mental health, said there is no evidence that treatment could successfully cure homosexuality. The psychologist said "gay cure" therapy has:
"...potential to psychologically damage innocent people and maybe contribute to suicidal behavior...When a leader such as Fiona Simpson makes misguided comments like this, it has the capacity to confirm these negative beliefs about themselves which can lead to depression, anxiety, substance abuse and self harm.”
Mr. Martin advises gays who find themselves under pressure to change their sexual orientation:
“Young people shouldn't listen to community leaders such as Ms Simpson, but instead focus on the fact that a majority of Australians support full equality for all gays and lesbians."