Victorian government begin consulting on ‘conversion therapy’ ban

The Victorian Government have begun a community consultation process seeking feedback on how to effectively ban ‘conversion therapy’ practices.

Premier Daniel Andrews announced back in February that his government would make Victoria the first to ban LGBT+ conversion practices.

“These activities – commonly referred to as ‘gay conversion therapy’ – claim to be able to change someone’s sexuality or gender identity,” Andrews said in February.

“What they really are is a most personal form of torture, a cruel practice that perpetuates the idea that LGBTI people are in some way broken.”

“Some survivors, seeking genuine professional support, have instead found themselves on the other end of this bigoted quackery.”

Andrews’ decision was a response to a recommendation from the Health Complaints Commissioner Inquiry report, which found overwhelming evidence that participants were subject to serious and long-term harm – and recommended the ban.

The Andrews Government are now seeking feedback on any practices of treatments that attempt to suppress a person’s sexuality or gender identity, in order to help shape the new law.

The consultation is specifically looking for what specific practices should be considered, who needs to be protected by a ban, legal approaches and ‘religious freedom’.

At a federal level, LGBTQ+ advocates have warned that the Morrison Government’s Religious Discrimination Bill could promote conversion practices, and override state laws.

A special provision in the draft legislation that protects “statements of belief” (section 41.1.c) would allow the Attorney General to override future state laws prohibiting the promotion of the harmful and discredited practices.

Sections 15 and 16 of the Bill could also make it harder to deregister a counsellor who engages in conversion practices based on their religious beliefs.

just.equal spokesperson Brian Greig has raised concerns over the scope of the federal bill.

“Conversion practices were invented by U.S. churches that believe being LGBTIQ+ people are broken”, Mr Greig said.

“They have been denounced by psychological associations worldwide as misleading, harmful and damaging.”

“Allowing religious organisations to continue to claim that LGBTIQ+ people are ‘broken’ and can be ‘fixed’ is not freedom, it is cruelty, especially when inflicted on children,” Greig said, “Opening up a wider space for conversion practices is deeply irresponsible.”

Section 41(1)(c) of the draft Bill gives express permission for the federal Attorney General to override state laws that limit “statements of belief” which could include statements in favour of conversion practices.

OIP Staff