Tasmania Premier Jeremy Rockliff backs conversion practice ban

Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff has announced plans to introduce legislation that would ban conversion practices in his state.

The Liberal premier said his Liberal government would be acting on the recommendations of a report from the Tasmanian Law Reform Commission which made 16 recommendations for legislative change.

“I support acting on the recommendations of the law reform institute report,” Rockliff told an estimates hearing on Monday. “The attorney and I are working together on these matters. I will be leading the change.”

Tasmania will follow Victoria, Queensland and the ACT in bringing in laws which ban practices which aim to change a person’s sexuality or suppress their gender identity. Western Australia’s McGowan government ruled out bringing in similar legislation, instead opting to tighten up the rules around the registration of counselors and psychologists.

“I understand how much it has affected individuals to the detriment of their wellbeing, to put it mildly,” Premier Rockliff said. “It is clear to me as the minister for mental health and wellbeing that there needs to be change. I do take this very seriously.”

LGBTIQA+ equality advocates in Tasmania have welcomed the announcement. Equality Tasmania spokesperson, Rodney Croome, said it was an important reform that was long overdue.

“We thank Mr Rockliff for his commitment to this important reform and look forward to working with the Government to ensure Tasmania’s legislation is the most effective in the nation.”

“Recent studies have shown that 1 in 20 LGBTIQA+ Tasmanians have been through formal conversion practices, and that they are three to four times more likely to have PTSD and attempt suicide as a result.”

“As the Minister for Mental Health, Mr Rockliff can speak to the mental health trauma conversion practices inflict and as Premier he can give the legislation the priority it requires.” Croome said.

The TLRI report recommended amendments to existing legislation including the Mental Health Act, the Anti-Discrimination Act and the Criminal Code. The report also addressed concerns about the rights of pastors, parents and health practitioners being infringed.

Croome said there were few people who would be worried about the new laws.

“Pastors who deal with religious matters rather than conversion pseudo-science, parents who have the best interests of their children in mind and health practitioners who work within existing professional guidelines have nothing to worry about.” Croome said.

The Australian Christian Lobby have voiced their opposition to the proposed laws, saying the report from the Tasmania Law Reform Commission should have been rejected.

The group’s Tasmania Director, Christopher Brohier, said the report was seriously flawed.

“This is an irresponsible and ill-conceived report. It acknowledges that there is ‘no data about the nature and prevalence of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) conversion practices in Tasmania’ yet proceeds to uncritically accept generalised conclusions and anecdotal evidence including ‘pseudonymous, anonymous and confidential submissions’ provided by activist organisations.

“The report gives little or no weight to the evidence of harm done to children through gender transition treatment and downplays the considerable, globally available, evidence that a ‘wait and see’ approach to gender confused children is in their best interests.

“The report contradicts itself, stating that sexuality and gender are not fixed and immutable, whilst rejecting the obvious corollary that people should be free to choose any assistance to change if they so wish.

“Conversion law such as this presents an obvious danger to confused children who can be funneled into life-altering treatments they will later regret. Parents and medical practitioners must be allowed to choose what is in the best interests of their children and patients, not be dictated to by activist groups.” Brohier said.

Speaking on Vision Christian Radio earlier this week the Australian Christian Lobby’s National Director Martyn Iles said the legislation was alarming to Christians in Tasmania.

“These are laws which are wolves in sheep’s clothing” Iles said. “They come along with a very noble aim, which is to say ‘Ah! These outdated medieval conversion therapy practices which were inflicted on LGBT people in the past – it’s time to ban them.'”

Iles said that conversion practices no longer occurred in society so there was no need for the ban, and the proposed laws were really pushing a covert agenda.

“These laws have such wide ranging effects, and what they end up doing, and this is true in the case of Victoria, is criminalising anybody who does anything that does not wholly and complete affirm homosexuality and transgenderism in a person.”

Martyn Iles said the Australian Christian Lobby would be launching a campaign to fight the introduction of proposed legislation in Tasmania.

OIP Staff

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