Catholic Church accused of spreading misinformation on law reforms

Equality advocates have welcomed a statement from the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute (TLRI) addressing an alleged misinformation campaign about its report on banning LGBTIQA+ conversion practices.

On Monday the TLRI responded to an article in the June 12th edition of the Tasmanian Catholic Standard claiming the TLRI recommendations would “force” medical professionals to affirm transgender patients thereby “increasing the likelihood that a patient would pursue irreversible procedures to ‘transtion’ to the opposite sex”

The TLRI said the current Australian standard of care for trans and gender diverse people, which is set by medical professionals and confirmed by the Federal Court, is gender affirming.

The TLRI said they had recommended a conscientious objection for those medical professionals who cannot meet this standard, so there is no question of “force”.

Furthermore, the TLRI has recommended Tasmania’s Chief Civil Psychiatrist, in consultation with professional medical bodies, specify appropriate guidelines for the treatment of trans and gender diverse people so individual practitioners are not left to interpret existing standards.

The TLRI said the focus of its report is the risk of “unqualified, untrained and unlicensed people making pseudo-scientific representations and undertaking pseudo-medical conduct on highly vulnerable people in a particularly sensitive area of health practice”.

The Institute recommended that the treatment of trans and gender diverse people “is only carried out by qualified health professionals, according to contemporary clinical health care standards”.

Equality Tasmania spokesperson, Rodney Croome, said it was important that misinformation was called publicly called out.

“I congratulate the TLRI for responding to the misinformation campaign we are seeing from the Catholic Archdiocese of Hobart and others.”

“The TLRI statement has made it clear the Catholic Church’s issue is not with the TLRI’s report, but with existing medical standards of care for trans and gender diverse people that the TLRI simply wants to see upheld.”

“The Archdiocese is conducting a misinformation campaign, not to protect medical practitioners, who the TLRI recommendations already protect, but because it wants the door to conversion practices left open.”

“The Archdiocese must answer a simple question, why does it want to jeopardise the wellbeing of vulnerable trans and gender diverse people by subjecting them to medical practitioners acting unprofessionally or quacks who are completely unqualified?” Rodney Croome said.

“Conversion practices are based on false and misleading claims, cause profound harm and must be prohibited.”

Croome added that the Catholic Standard was also wrong to say he was part of the TLRI’s reference group for its inquiry.

“I was never a member of the reference group because that would have compromised the independence of the inquiry given I am part of one of the organisations that referred the matter to the TLRI.”

The article in the Catholic Standard was written by Catherine Sheehan who is the Communications Coordinator for the Catholic Archdiocese of Hobart.

Graeme Watson

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