Conversion therapy survivors concerned over proposed Queensland ban

A ban on LGBTIQ+ conversion therapy is set to pass Queensland’s parliament this week, as many states across Australia are considering how to move forward with outlawing the practice.

Health practitioners who attempt to change or suppress a person’s sexuality or gender identity could be charged for the offence, with a maximum sentence of 18 months behind bars.

Queensland’s Health Minister Steven Miles spoke on the Bill at its introduction last year, labelling conversion therapies as ‘unethical’.

“To young people out there who might hear this, who are still figuring out who they are, there is nothing wrong with you,” Miles said.

“If one day you fall in love with someone the same gender as you, there is nothing wrong with you… your government supports you.”

While the Bill would outlaw these practices for therapists and health service providers, the legislation does not target religious organisations that may seek to change a person’s sexuality or gender identity in an informal setting. LGBTIQ+ advocates and conversion therapy survivors have raised concerns that the Bill does not go far enough.

SOGICE Survivors (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Change Efforts) and Brave Network, two advocacy groups led by survivors of the conversion attempts, have released a statement questioning the extent of the legislation.

“Overwhelmingly, the bulk of harm occurs over time in informal settings (such as pastoral care in faith communities), and not in therapeutic contexts,” the statement reads.

“This harm is driven by false and misleading claims made to people over a long period of time. Because of this, legislation aimed solely at health service providers using ‘therapy’ is not going to solve the problem.”

“A response to conversion practices needs to address the ideology that underpins them (false and misleading claims).”

Both organisations have a list of recommendations for any legislators addressing the issue, which includes a clear definition of pastoral care, clear guidelines on false/misleading claims that lead to conversion practices, as well as steps to prevent the dissemination of misleading claims about therapies, and including informed survivors in future training for health professionals.

Queensland’s State Director of the Australian Christian Lobby Wendy Francis has also raised concerns about the Bill, arguing that the government would be committing gross negligence in ignoring dissenting voices on the ban. Francis and the ACL believe the legislation goes too far.

“The proposed conversion therapies legislation will have a highly detrimental impact on health service providers and potentially others who are involved in treating, counselling, caring for and advising individuals on matters related to their sexual orientation and gender identity,” Francis said.

“Under the bill medical practitioners will not be permitted to treat a child in any other way, except to affirm the child’s wish to transition gender, under threat of criminal sanction.”

“We call on the government to halt the passage of this bill until the parliament has received the report promised by Health Minister Steven Miles and allow public consideration of the implications of this bill.”

The ACL have been vocal opponents of action against conversion therapy around the nation, with South Australian state director Christopher Brohier dismissing the practice as a ‘myth’ while fighting a state ban, ans ACL head Martyn Iles claimed anti-conversion therapy legislation targets “Christian theology, doctrine and community themselves” in a video condemning the bans last year.

OIP Staff

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