voiced concern on Dec. 1 that Exodus Global Alliance is spreading involuntary and fundamentalist ex-gay programs down under, in the form of Member of Parliament Jonathan Young. His anti-Semitic Christian “Teen Challenge” has been linked to two U.S. ex-gay activists — David Kyle Foster and Janelle Hallman. Australia recovers from the allegation by several women that the global Mercy Ministries involuntarily detained women and denied them access to professional medical and mental-health care.

What if LGBT adolescent substance abusers entered Teen Challenge’s programmes? What if they are exposed to this unhealthy and unscientific message about the allegedly “essential” pathology of their sexual orientation? It is quite probable that they will experience sexual identity conflict, which could seriously impede their recovery from substance abuse problems, and/or face summary expulsion from fundamentalist oriented Teen Challenge programmes if they refused to “degay” themselves, without referral to mainstream counselors or psychotherapeutic professionals.

According to one professional study, the latter behaviour is rife in fundamentalist ‘exgay’ programmes, and not restricted to those alone. Over the last year, I’ve become aware of the toxic environment of “Mercy Ministries Australia,” a fundamentalist organisation that stated to young women that it could assist existing problems from eating disorders, past child sexual abuse, self-harm, substance abuse and sexual identity conflict. They were told that they would receive ‘professional’ help, but did not have such access. Moreover, if young female residents complained about the programme, or were labeled ‘non-compliant,’ they were summarily expelled from the programme.

Survivors of Mercy Ministries have reportedly assembled the following checklist for people to consult before submitting themselves or loved ones to Exodus-affiliated ex-gay programs:

  1. Do you abide by a Code of Conduct that outlines client rights? Can I have a copy?
  2. Do you have professional indemnity and public liability insurance?
  3. Are you a financial member of an accredited professional body?
  4. Do you receive regular professional supervision and guidance?
  5. Are your qualifications from an accredited program?
  6. Have you completed your training as a counsellor?