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Tasmanian advocates brand proposed conversion ban "useless"


Tasmanian LGBTIQA+ advocates have slammed the state government’s proposed bill to ban conversion practices, saying it will allow the harmful practices to continue.

The proposed legislation, which was promised by Jeremy Rockliff’s Liberal government in June, would criminalise an “attempt to change or eradicate the sexual orientation or gender identity” of a person, but Equality Tasmania is concerned there are too many loopholes in the draft bill.

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Equality Tasmania’s Rodney Croome says the bill doesn’t go far enough and doesn’t meet the standards recommended by the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute (TLRI) in May last year. The TLRI report recommended law reform should provide a clearer and more binding legal framework for existing professional health guidelines to reflect best health practices, stop unregistered and unqualified people from purporting to assess, diagnose or treat other’s sexual orientation or gender identity as a fault and limit the harm caused by misinformation.

Equality Tasmania are concerned the draft legislation does not fully address these recommendations, with Tasmania’s Attorney-General Guy Barnett saying it would not cover attempts by “health professionals, family and friends or in religious or spiritual settings”.

“The bill will allow conversion practices to continue, both in health and religious settings, under the guise of ill-defined terms like ‘support’, ‘assistance’, ‘care’ and ‘guidance’.

“It will also allow conversion practices if there is ‘consent’, despite the fact that it is impossible to ‘consent’ to a ‘treatment’ that doesn’t work for a ‘condition’ that doesn’t exist.”

Croome also warns that conversion practices needs to include civil penalties, as well as criminal, to ensure practitioners are held to account.

“These are the holes conversion practitioners will crawl through so they can continue to inflect their cruel and discredited ‘therapies’.

“We are also disappointed this won’t be a stand-alone act with a preamble against conversion practices like in other states where legislation has sent a stronger message.

Victoria’s conversion practice ban has been lauded as a gold standard in this space, introduced by the Andrews Government in 2021, but Croome says Tasmania’s attempt doesn’t stack up.

“This is the kind of bill that you would draft if you wanted to appear to ban conversion practices without actually banning them.”

“It is really disappointing that after so much heart-felt advocacy by survivors, so much ground-breaking research and so many well-developed recommendations from the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute, the government has come up with such useless legislation.”

“We will use the current consultation period to urge the government to scrap this bill, listen to the experts and the survivors, and draft something that will do the job.”

The draft bill is open for consultation until 14 February 2024.


Do you need some support?

If you are struggling with anxiety or depression, support and counselling are available from:

QLife: 1800 184 527 / qlife.org.au (Webchat 3pm – midnight)
QLife are a counselling and referral service for LGBTQIA+ people.

DISCHARGEDinfo@discharged.asn.au / discharged.asn.au
Discharged is a trans-led support service with peer support groups for trans and gender diverse folks.

Lifeline: 13 11 14 / lifeline.org.au

Beyondblue: 1300 22 4636 / www.beyondblue.org.au


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