Mar 22, 2014

Living Waters, Australia's oldest ex-gay/conversion therapy organization, to close

Living Waters Australia (LWA), one of the foremost and longest running ex-gay/conversion therapy programs in this country will cease operations next month. Ron Brookman, the Australian director, made the announcement in a newsletter to followers last week.  Many in the gay community are applauding this move as it means only a small number of these organisations remain.

Anthony Venn-Brown, founder of Ambassadors & Bridge Builders International, who has been monitoring Australian ex-gay activities for nearly two decades, welcomed the news.

"For the last fifteen years ex-gay ministries have been in decline in this country. Living Waters Australia closure means we are near the end. The tipping point was reached some time ago but a handful of these organisations, including LWA, declared they would continue or operate after Exodus International closed its doors last year.  What is particularly significant is that LWA has been one of Australia's most prominent and long lasting organisations. In many ways LWA's closure is  equivalent to Exodus International in the US shutting down" Venn-Brown said.

"Participants in these 'change is possible' programs are often emotionally and psychologically damaged.  It can take years to work through the trauma, shame and self-loathing.  Some have even taken their own lives. The closure does mean that Christian people 'struggling with unwanted same sex attraction' will have fewer options and less people will be harmed. But it also means that we have to build bridges to the strugglers to help them reconcile faith and sexuality instead of being told they have to choose one or the other. Sadly, for the next twenty years we will no doubt be working with those previously damaged by the out dated message that homosexuality is a sin and God changes gay people to straight"  Venn-Brown added.

"The remaining organisations days are well and truly numbered. The gay Christian movement grows exponentially, the number or LGBTI welcoming, accepting and affirming churches increases annually. The vast majority of Australians have an out, proud gay or lesbian brother, sister, niece, nephew, aunt, uncle, parent or grandparent, friend or work colleague. And to hear churches or religious organisations label them as sick, dysfunctional and broken is abhorrent, offensive and ignorant" Venn-Brown said.

LWA is winding up the organization with a Thanksgiving Service at the Ramsgate Community Church on Saturday 12th April.

On the same day, Ambassadors & Bridge Builders International will be holding a vigil "to remember those we have taken their own lives because of the conflict of their faith and sexuality and also celebrate those who have come out the other end of ex-gay programs and are now living openly proud lives as gay women and men" Venn-Brown concluded.

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