Victoria’s conversion therapy ban passes the lower house

Victoria’s legislation to ban conversion therapy practices is one major step closer to becoming law after it passed the state’s lower house on Thursday.

The Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill passed on the final sitting day of the Victorian parliament with all 55 MPs in the the chamber voting for it. The Liberal opposition abstained from voting.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews has described the legislation as life-changing for the people affected by the practice.

“Every person has the right to be proud of who they are and who they love, and should never be required to hide away, let alone apologise for their identity,” he said.

“You are not broken. You are not in need of treatment. You are you and you are equal.”

The bill has been widely criticised by multiple religious groups, with Martyn Illes the head of the Australian Christian Lobby labeling it the biggest attack on religious freedom in this history of the nation.

In a post to the group’s website Illes argues that the bill could lead to people of faith having to endure stressful and protracted investigations that would see police at their doors demanding documents and threatening to put Christians in jail.

Archbishop Peter Comensoli, the Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne, has also been an opponent of the new laws saying they do nothing to protect people from harm, but instead target Christians.

“The problem is this bill doesn’t merely do what it claims. It targets prayer, and appears to impose silence on people of faith from sharing their beliefs in an open, honest and faithful way. The bill imposes on the right of parents and children to speak plainly and honestly with one another. It robs adults from seeking whatever guidance and pastoral support they seek concerning deeply personal matters,” he said.

The Association for Reformed Political Action, the group who recently convinced the City of Armadale to review their policies around flying the rainbow flag, have also come out in opposition to the bill urging followers to take a stance against the legislation in Victoria and other states.

“This kind of legislation could mean that even praying with someone that is considering a change of gender, could make you a criminal, whether you are a parent, guardian, pastor, elder, Bible study leader, school, teacher, chaplain, counsellor or health professional, including a doctors.” the group said in an email released today.

Not all religious groups though are opposed to the legislation, it’s been welcomed by the Uniting Church.

Reverend Avril Hannah-Jones, told The West Australian that the new laws were needed.

“One of the most painful things that can happen to a queer person of faith is being told that they have been somehow mismade by God, that somehow their sexuality or their gender identity was a mistake,” she said.

“This bill seeks to prevent harm being done, it’s not an infringement on anyone’s religious freedom because our religious freedom stops as soon as we do harm to anybody.”

Victoria’s opposition has held back their position on the bill until it reaches the upper-house, where it will need the support of the Liberal party or the cross bench to become law. Liberal leader Matthew Guy has not indicated if a conscience vote will be granted to members.

OIP Staff

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