A conservative doctor at the centre of a gay marriage storm has resigned from the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission but remains on the public payroll as the state’s second most senior psychiatrist.

Equal opportunity board member Kuruvilla George was one of 150 doctors who signed a letter on behalf of anti-gay religious-linked lobby group Doctors for the Family — part of a submission to a Senate committee — arguing same-s-x marriage could harm Australia’s health and “normalise” deviant behaviour.

But this morning, Attorney General Robert Clark, who had defended his charge after the letter was published in the tabloid press, issued a statement confirming George’s resignation. As Crikey hit deadline, the doctor was still Victoria’s highly-paid deputy chief psychiatrist.

George, who spent 10 years in India trying to convert the subalterns, has received cautious backing from his boss, chief psychiatrist Ruth Vine, who says he was acting in a private capacity.

As political blogs The Conscience Vote and That’s My Philosophy pointed out yesterday, other Doctors for the Family have dubious political backgrounds. Ringleader Lachlan Dunjey was the Christian Democratic Party’s 2004 Senate candidate for Western Australia alongside another signatory Norman Gage. Dunjey runs an anti-abortion religious-linked grouping Liberty of Conscience in Medicine of which George is an associate.

George’s wife, Margaret Kuruvilla, seems to be a strong admirer of loony Catch the Fire Ministries pastor Danny Nalliah, who famously blamed the Black Saturday bushfires on abortion and recently described homos-xuality as “not OK” and “beyond morality”. In a pre-election anti-Kevin Rudd, rant in October 2007, Margaret Kuruvilla posted a disturbing missive to Nalliah’s page in which she urged his insurgents to “inform Christians what is really going on in both the Federal and State Parliaments”:

“Dear Pastor Danny and all the staff Thank you to each one of you for your courage and perseverance in standing up for righteousness in Australia. God has called each one of you to inform Christians about what is really going on in both the Federal and State Governments. I am very thankful to God that He has raised up an organisation like ‘Catch the Fire Ministries’ (and other similar ministries) to open our eyes to the truth. I know that we Christians need to be more informed about the policies of each Political Party and know what each leader stands for. It is vital so that the enemy does not gain any more ground in our Country. We also need to pray more for our political leaders. Christians are being called to pray and cry out to God for His Holy Spirit to be poured out on this Great South Land. May we all hear that call and obey. Thank you gain for all your hard work. God bless you all.”

Another relgio-signatory, Dr Murray James-Wallace, also seems to dig Nalliah’s flow, posting this contribution to the Catch the Fire website two weeks ago on the Doctors’ grand mission to halteth gays. He’s also apparently been flitting around Israel with Pastor Danny healing the sick.

(After an unsuccessful Family First Senate tilt in 2004, Nalliah this year formed the Keep Australia Australian party to re-affirm the country’s “Judeo-Christian heritage”).

In 2009 Margaret Kuruvilla posted a submission to a national human rights consultation railing against the introduction of a national charter of rights in Australia. Amusingly, her husband presided over Victoria’s 2006 human rights charter, which Clark is eager to wind back or dilute.

In his remaining role as a state psychiatrist, George appears keen to use the Book as a therapy tool in the mould of another Doctors agitator, Dr John Mathai, a big fan of something called a “Biblio-centred model of therapy”.

As That’s My Philosophy helpfully Googled, other signatories — including Dr Teem-Wing (TW) Yip, Dr Robert Pollnitz, Dr Yoke Mei Neoh, Dr Lucas McLindon, Dr Elvis Seman, Dr Lucia Migliore, Dr Joseph Santamaria, Dr John Muirden and Dr Tanuja Martin (along with husband Luke) — also have impeccable God links.

Clark, who appointed Kuruvilla to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission last year, issued a statement this morning:

“The Victorian Coalition Government has been informed by the Chair of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, Mr John Searle, that Professor Kuruvilla George has expressed his intention to resign as a Board member of the Commission.

“The Government thanks Professor George for his dedicated service to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission during his time as a member of the Board.”

A Department of Health spokesperson referred us to the previous statement released by the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist yesterday, warning that comments “made in a private capacity can be misconstrued as being representative of Government policy”.

The email edition of this story said Pastor Basil Schild had signed the petition. This is incorrect.

Peter Fray

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