A psychiatrist (pictured) who believes she can cure gayness and a politician who believes marriage is now “meaningless” after New Zealand legalised gay marriage are causing a stir before they’ve even landed in Australia.
Several controversial personalities will head to Sydney next month to deliver keynote addresses at the world’s biggest ‘family values’ conference, the seventh World Congress of Families. And they’ve got critics fuming.
The line-up for the conference – which organisers say will ‘make families stronger’ – includes New Zealand politician Bob McCroskie, who said that marriage has no meaning now that gay people are allowed to marry in his country.
“Ironically, marriage has become meaningless,” Mr McCroskie said. “We will now be using the word to describe something else … conceived by politics and political correctness.”
“A child has a right to a mum and a dad,” he continued. “We should not set out in public policy to deny a child that basic right. This is not a sexuality issue. This is a gender issue. The gender of the parents does matter to a child.”
Mr McCroskie is joined by Dr Miriam Grossman, a controversial psychiatrist who has prescribed her patients ‘therapy’ where they can ‘learn how to be to stop being gay’ and teaches that sex education is “animated by … crackpot ideology”.
Gay rights activist and Sydney MP Alex Greenwich is so fired up about their arrival he has written to the NSW Tourism minister demanding he ensure the conference follows the state’s tough anti-discrimination legislation.
“We don’t want a bunch of hateful extremists coming here and spouting off their ridiculous thoughts and views on the gay and lesbian community,” said Mr Greenwich, who is concerned about the effect speakers could have on vulnerable gay and lesbian adolescents.
But there won’t be any vilification, World Congress of Families Sydney chairwoman Mary-Louise Fowler said, with the focus of the event on how to confront the financial and social pressures on keeping families together.
“We looked at some of the data that says without doubt, the children that do best are those raised in an intact family,” she said.
She said the conference believed marriage was between a man and a woman and praised Dr Grossman as being “at the coal face” of practical sex education.
Ms Fowler said she would be “very sad” if people created a public nuisance of themselves if they disagree with their views.
“If people want to disagree with us, that’s fine. We have the freedom to express that view, the same as Alex,” Ms Fowler said, adding she does not want to have a sterile conversation about the big issues. “It’s not a crime to offend people.”
Other keynote speakers at the Congress include abstinence advocate Pat Fagan and former deputy prime minister John Anderson. It’s the first time the World Congress of Families has been held in an English-speaking country.
Gay marriage advocate Rodney Croome said people who fearmonger over marriage equality are looking increasingly irrelevant. “Advocates against marriage equality would do their cause a favour by asking Mr McCroskie to stay at home,” he said.