Greg Hunt Got Into A Weird Argument About Gay Conversion Therapy And Freedom Of Speech

    Australia's health minister said he opposed gay conversion therapy but argued that it could still be debated.

    Lukas Coch / AAPIMAGE

    Australian health minister Greg Hunt got into a bizarre radio debate with an ABC presenter over gay conversion therapy and freedom of speech.

    Ahead of the Victorian Liberal Party's state conference later this month, one of the more conservative branches put forward a motion calling for so-called gay conversion therapy to be allowed.

    The motion called for the opposition party to support "amending the Health Complaints Act to ensure that health practitioners can offer counselling out of same sex attraction or gender transitioning to patients who request it".

    It was one of several anti-LGBTI motions put up to be debated at the conference.

    #9 Special Motion to erase Transgender People from existence

    In Victoria, the state Labor government gave the health complaints commissioner the power to investigate and crack down on any health practitioner claiming they can "convert" gay people to become heterosexual.

    The practice is not as common as it was in the past, but still exists in some parts of Australia. Many of those that previously practiced conversion therapy now encourage same-sex attracted people to live celibate lives instead.

    After Fairfax Media reported on the motions, state president Michael Kroger had the conversion therapy motion pulled from the conference.

    Hunt, who was one of the vocal supporters for same-sex marriage within the Liberal Party last year, was asked about the motion on ABC's RN Drive by host Patricia Karvelas on Tuesday. In response, Hunt said that he did not support gay conversion therapy, and it would not become federal government policy to support it.

    But then Hunt pivoted and suggested debate about it should be allowed.

    "People are entitled to have different views, views that I disagree with," he said. "What I do worry about is this constant view that nobody anywhere is allowed to have a different view."

    Hunt then asked Karvelas whether she believed in freedom of speech, and what it meant to her. Karvelas said he wasn't answering her question.

    "Do you believe it is part of freedom of speech to convert young people away from being gay?" Karvelas asked.

    "Do I think there should be a practice of that?" Hunt asked. "No." But people should be able to debate it, he argued.

    The argument continued with neither side giving ground, until Hunt said: "I hope you run this in full," in reference to the recording of the interview.

    Karvelas said she would, but said it was "an interesting conversation we are having".

    "Why do you think Michael Kroger pulled the motion if you think it is part of freedom of speech?" she asked.

    Hunt then admitted he didn't know about the motion, but was just answering a question about conversion therapy.

    Look, you might as well just listen to the interview, from 10 minutes in.

    The Liberal conference in Victoria will determine many of the policies that the party takes to the state election in November this year.

    Josh Taylor is a Senior Reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.

    Contact Josh Taylor at josh.taylor@buzzfeed.com.

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