Politics

The Health Minister Won’t Say If He Condemns Harmful Gay Conversion Therapy

Greg Hunt was asked about conversion therapy, then things really went off the rails.

In a truly bizarre interview on ABC Radio National last night, federal Health Minister Greg Hunt delivered a pretty cooked rant on freedom of speech in response to a pretty simple question: is he concerned that section of the Liberal Party want to support gay conversion therapy?

The question was prompted by the recent news that the Victorian Liberal Party’s upcoming state council agenda featured a number of anti-LGBTIQ motions, including one in support of the extraordinarily harmful practice of conversion therapy designed to persuade LGBTIQ individuals out of identifying as LGBTIQ.

While the conversion therapy motion has since been dropped from the agenda, given that Hunt is the Minister for Health as well as a senior member of the Liberal Party, ABC presenter Patricia Karvelas asked him whether he was alarmed that a section of his party had even proposed supporting a therapy with such well-documented harmful effects.

Hunt began by saying that he personally does not support conversion therapy at all, nor does the federal government, but then things got weird. Namely, he told Karvelas that “people are entitled to have different views, views that I disagree with,” adding that “what I do worry about is this constant view that nobody is anywhere allowed to have a different view”.

He then turned on Karvelas, saying “as a journalist, I would hope that you believe in freedom of speech.”

“I don’t think the question is freedom of speech,” a shocked Karvelas responded. What ensued was several minutes of Hunt demanding that Karvelas define freedom of speech, while Karvelas pointed out that Hunt continued to avoid the original question.

“Do you believe that it’s part of freedom of speech to convert young people away from being gay?” Karvelas eventually asked, at which point Hunt claimed that freedom of speech and conversion therapy are “two completely different things” and continued to crap on about free speech.

“I’m asking you a question because you’re the Health Minister, and there are health ramifications when people are converted. Do you accept that?” Karvelas said.

“Will you just for once, answer a question for me?” Hunt responded, still avoiding the question put to him. “Here’s your chance: what does freedom of speech mean to you as a journalist? Your audience is listening — here’s your chance. Or are you afraid to stand up for freedom of speech?”

Dude, she’s not afraid…she’s just the interviewer in this situation, waiting for you to answer the question. Anyway, Greg Hunt weirdly seems to come out of the interview thinking he’s won some kind of freedom of speech crusade, but the social media reaction is pretty uniformly against him.

Turns out the people just wanted their Health Minister to emphatically shut down suggestions that we should support an extraordinarily harmful practice that destroys the lives of LGBTIQ kids. If only he’d exercised his freedom of speech to do that.

You can listen to the full Radio National interview here — the conversion therapy conversation starts around 10:30.