Conversion therapy survivors seek Premier’s pledge to strengthen ban

Survivors of LGBTIQ+ conversion therapy practices are urging Queensland’s Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to pledge to strengthen the state’s recent ban on conversion therapy should her government return to parliament after October’s state election.

LGBTIQ+ advocates and conversion therapy survivors have raised concerns that the legislation rushed through parliament last week does not extend to religious organisations, where LGBTIQ+ people are still at risk of facing harmful attempts to change or suppress their sexuality or gender identity.

“While we welcome the Queensland Government’s attention to this issue, we are deeply disappointed with the legislation you had just passed and alarmed at the precedent it may set nationally,” the letter reads.

“Despite your strong message, and that of your Health Minister, that Queensland “rejects the notion that LGBTQ+ people are ‘broken’ or need to be healed”, this ineffective legislation will see such notions continue to proliferate in Queensland communities.”

Nathan Despott, from survivor group Brave Network, said the Queensland legislation is basically “useless”.

“We believe the Queensland Government can do much better than this, and we are calling on the Premier to pledge further reform if re-elected in October,” Despott said.

The letter to Premier Palaszczuk is also signed by Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Change Efforts (SOGICE) Survivors, and endorsed by Reverend Josephine Inkpin from Equal Voices Queensland and Jason Masters from the Uniting Network. Collectively the letter represents a plea by Australia’s foremost survivor advocacy groups.

Despott said the majority of conversion practices occur in informal and religious settings, which the Queensland Act does not cover.

“This means only a tiny portion of people who have survived or are still experiencing conversion practices, including children, are helped by this legislation.”

“It is not just ‘imperfect’ legislation, it is actually dangerous legislation, because it effectively gives permission for the worst offenders to continue.”

“Queensland’s law may be the first, but it’s also the least helpful of the many approaches used globally.”

SOGICE Survivors spokesperson, Chris Csabs, said the legislation also fails to address the ideology behind conversion practices.

“The false claims at the heart of conversion practices are grounded in pseudoscientific concepts thoroughly rejected by Australia’s peak psychological health bodies.”

“While often masked as theological, these concepts must be viewed as therapeutically fraudulent,” he said.

SOGICE Survivors and Brave also expressed frustration at the language and wording used in the Queensland legislation, which went against what they recommended.

Despott said survivor groups had made 13 key recommendations to the Queensland government when framing its legislation, of which they adopted three; the probition of conversion practices delivered by health professionals, penalites for practitioners delivering conversion in formal settings and a process for investigating complaints made by survivors.

The letter to Premier Palaszczuk calls on her to amend the legislation to deploy the other ten recommendations, include religious groups and organisations, establish a survivor support redress scheme and create regulations to investigate fraudulent claims, advertising and referrals related to conversion practices.

OIP Staff

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