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Australian state of Victoria’s ‘conversion therapy’ bill is ‘world-leading’

Australian state of Victoria’s ‘conversion therapy’ bill is ‘world-leading’

  • ‘The Victorian bill is vastly better than any bill developed in Australia to date.’
Parliament of Victoria.

The government of the state of Victoria in Australia has tabled a bill to outlaw LGBT+ ‘conversion therapy’.

And LGBT+ campaigners have heralded the proposals as ‘world-leading’.

The bill would outlaw the harmful and damaging practice of trying to change or suppress a person’s gender identity or sexual orientation.

Anna Brown, CEO of Equality Australia, said:

‘This bill sends a powerful message that LGBTQ+ people are whole and valid just as they are, and establishes powerful mechanisms to deal with incredibly harmful practices that LGBTQ+ people endure across Victoria.

‘From consent based facilitation, investigation and enforcement action by the Equal Opportunity Commission, to criminal penalties for serious injury – this legislation provides a range of avenues to prevent harm and bring perpetrators to justice.’

Meanwhile survivor groups have also welcomed the proposed legislation.

Chris Csabs from Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Change Efforts (SOGICE) Survivors said that ‘the main priority when it comes to legislation is to stop the harm from occurring. We believe that this bill is a big step in that direction.’

And Nathan Despott from survivor-led advocacy group Brave Network said it is a ‘powerful bill’.

He added: ‘The Victorian bill is vastly better than any bill developed in Australia to date.’

‘Great step’

That reference to other bills in Australia banning ‘conversion therapy’ comes after both the state of Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) passed their own legislation.

But their two laws vary hugely and show that not all bans on ‘conversion therapy’ are created equal.

Queensland’s bill gave opt-outs to religious groups – who are precisely the people who carry out most attempted LGBT+ ‘cures’.

As a result, survivors said the bill was useless and may even be counterproductive because it will block effective legislation from coming in later.

By comparison, they were more welcoming of the legislation in the ACT – the area around the capital, Canberra.

Survivors gave that law a ‘seven out of 10’. They said it is far better than Queensland’s law but that ACT’s ban ‘still falls short of the optimum position sought by survivor groups’.

Now they will be hoping that other Australian regions follow Victoria’s lead. South Australia and Tasmania are already looking at bans. However New South Wales, Western Australia and the Northern Territory are still to act.

A law has also been suggested to cover the whole of Australia but the federal government hasn’t moved forward with it.

Meanwhile, the Parliament of Victoria in Melbourne still has to pass the bill.

Brown said: ‘We hope that the bill will have broad support in the Victorian Parliament and we see the passage of this world-leading legislation.

‘While no law can fix a complex social problem on its own, this bill is a great step towards ending the incredible harm caused by attempted LGBTQ+ conversion practices.” 

‘Of course there remains much more to do to ensure LGBTIQ+ people are protected from harm including removing broad exemptions that allow religious institutions to discriminate against LGBTIQ+ people, and ensuring that intersex children are not subjected to unnecessary surgeries or medical treatment.’