Advocates say conversion therapy bill sets worrying precedent


LGBTIQ advocates have slammed the legislation banning conversion practice that was passed last week by the Queensland Government last week, saying it will be “utterly ineffective.”

The Palaszczuk Government had promised to ban the cruel and unscientific practice of trying to convert LGBTIQ people. However, under pressure from anti-LGBTIQ groups, it only outlawed such practices in formal health settings and left out informal religious settings where the majority of conversion practice occurs.

National spokesperson for PFLAG+ and Brisbane-based advocate, Shelley Argent, said the Queensland Government may be the first state government to pass such a law but it shouldn’t have bothered.

“The approach it took is uninformed and detrimental to those exposed because of the loophole allowing informal conversion practices in a religious setting,” Argent said. “Given that almost all conversion practice is undertaken in informal religious settings and not by health professionals, this new law is next to useless.”

“This legislation tries to solve what is largely a non-problem while leaving the real problem untouched.”

“This is like passing a law to ban cigarette advertising but excluding tobacco companies.”

Spokesperson for Australian LGBTIQ lobby group Just-Equal, Brian Greig, said the weak model adopted in Queensland must not set a national precedent.

“This legislation effectively includes a religious exemption which completely undermines its purpose and misses the target.”

“The message sent by the legislation is that informal, religious conversion practices are still okay and can be inflicted with impunity.”

“As other states and territories look to ban this cruel and abusive practice, the Queensland model is a shining example of what not to do.”

Greig dismissed the claim that the legislation is “a good first step”.

“This legislation was enacted in a rush by a state government that wants to look gay-friendly two months out from an election, but is unduly afraid of the religious right.”

“As LGBTIQ Australians know from bitter experience, carve outs allowing anti-LGBTIQ discrimination in the name of religion are almost impossible to remove from legislation, with some state discrimination exemptions still in place after forty years.”

Greig said Just-Equal and others will lobby other state and territory governments to ensure higher standards are adopted than those set in Queensland.

Speaking to SBS, conversion practices survivor, Chris Csabs, argued that the legislation will not cover most of the areas where the practice takes place.

“The vast majority of survivors currently come from conversion practices that are done in informal spaces, like in religious groups or pastoral care. The Queensland legislation focuses on the health stuff rather than anything else, so it’s actually missing the vast majority of survivors and it’s not actually very protective at all.” Csabs said.

LGBTI rights advocates argue that the bill is ineffective, but the Australian Christian Lobby has voiced their opposition to the legislation saying it already goes too far. The ACL says there is no evidence that abusive practices are happening in Australia.

OIP Staff

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