Back! First Fridays: 1 March – Indigenous Epistemologies + LGBT Conversion Therapy

Deakin’s Gender and Sexuality Studies Research Network is thrilled to launch another year of exciting events. Our ‘First Fridays’ series of Postgraduate Workshops and Public Seminars resumes on Friday 1 March, at Deakin Downtown (727 Collins St, near Southern Cross Station).

As with last year, the Postgraduate Workshop will run 2-3.30pm, followed by the Public Seminar at 4pm. ‘First Fridays’ are free and open to people interested in the work, although bookings are required.

To kick things off in March, Timothy Willem Jones will present a public seminar on “LGBT Conversion Therapy: Sex, Religion and Human Rights”, and Lisa Waller will present a Postgraduate Workshop on “Working with Indigenous Epistemologies”, including a discussion on how postgraduate researchers can engage with indigenous epistemologies from a non-indigenous standpoint. 


Working with Indigenous Epistemologies, Lisa Waller, 2pm-3.30pm

Researchers who want to undertake projects that amplify First Nations perspectives face a range of complex methodological and ethical considerations. This workshop explores how some of these challenges can be addressed by working with Indigenous epistemologies. Dadirri is the language of the Ngangikurungkurr people of Northern Australia and also a foundational concept that involves deep listening and underpins how Ngangikurungkurr live, act, understand, and feel. Engoori is a set of diplomatic protocols for resolving conflict that belong to the Mithaka people of South-West Queensland. The workshop explores how working with Indigenous knowledge cannot only shift ways of seeing and hearing, but the collaborations we form, the questions we ask, the findings we make, and the actions that flow from this.

This workshop will include a discussion on how postgraduate researchers can engage with indigenous epistemologies from a non-indigenous standpoint.

About the Speaker: Dr Lisa Waller is an Associate Professor of Communication in the School of Communication and Creative Arts, Deakin University, Australia. Her research investigates how the news media shapes society, from Indigenous Affairs, to its roles in local communities and the justice system. She is a member of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies and the Australian and New Zealand Communication Association. Lisa has two books: Hess, K & Waller, L (2017) Local Journalism in a Digital World (Palgrave Macmillan) and McCallum, K & Waller, L (2017) The Dynamics of News Media and Indigenous Policy in Australia (Intellect).


LGBT Conversion Therapy: Sex, Religion and Human Rights, Timothy Willem Jones, 4pm-5pm

In a media announcement at the opening of the 2019 Victorian Pride March, the premier of Victoria announced that his government would be the first in Australia to “introduce new legislation to ensure so-called ‘conversion therapy’ is against the law – once and for all”. The announcement was celebrated by LGBT community groups. Conservative Christians, however, were alarmed. The Australian Christian Lobby warned: “This would be seen as a direct attack on the faiths of millions of everyday Australians.”

Religious based LGBT conversion therapy has been practised in Australia for at least the past fifty years. As Australian medical authorities declassified homosexuality as a mental illness in 1973 and ceased attempts to ‘cure’ it, conservative religious organisations in Australia developed their own spiritual and counselling practices directed toward the sexual and gender reorientation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people (religious based conversion therapy has not included forced medical interventions on people born with intersex variations, so these interventions are beyond the scope of this paper). Over time, Australian LGBT conversion therapy movements became affiliated with a global network of similar religious conversion therapy organisations.

Conversion therapy is grounded in the conviction that all people are born with the potential to develop into heterosexuals, with a gender identity that accords with that assigned to them at birth. It views LGBT people as suffering from ‘sexual brokenness’, which can be cured. Full membership and participation in faith communities can depend on LGBT people of faith committing to celibacy and seeking ‘healing’ for their sexual brokenness (SOCE Survivor Statement, 2018). Health research has demonstrated that LGBT conversion ‘therapies’ do not reorient people’s sexuality or gender identity and may lead to long-lasting harms (What We Know Project, 2017). Despite evidence of their futility and harm, these practices continue in Australia today. Our pilot study estimated that 10 per cent of LGBT Australians are currently vulnerable to LGBT conversion therapy, being members of religious communities that practice and promote conversion therapy (Jones et al., 2018). In 2018, banning LGBT conversion therapy was identified as LGBT Australian’s top priority (Karp, 2018).

This paper will provide a preliminary genealogy of present conflicts over religious freedom and sexual discrimination related to LGBT conversion therapy, and reflect on the implications of a human rights framework on strategic historical and social research.

About the Speaker: Timothy Willem Jones is a historian of gender, sexuality and religion in the modern West. He is lead author of the pilot study report from which this paper derives: Preventing Harm, Promoting Justice: Responding to LGBT Conversion Therapy in Australia (2018). He is also the author of Sexual Politics in the Church of England, 1857-1957 (Oxford, 2013), and co-editor of Love and Romance in Modern Britain, 1918-1970 (Palgrave, 2015), Material Religion in Modern Britain: The Spirit of Things (Palgrave, 2015), and Interdisciplinary Feminist Responses to Crimes of Clerical Child Sexual Abuse (Routledge, 2018).

For further information and to register, click here >>