WA government’s lack of action on conversion therapy in the spotlight

The Western Australian government has been asked to take legislative action against conversion therapy.

The government is currently holding a parliamentary inquiry into the operation of Esther House, a substance abuse facility that has been accused of using suppression and change practices as part of their treatment program.

Previous clients of the facility have shared stories of mental, physical and sexual abuse, alongside reports of conversion practices being used in the past.

The WA government has published some of the public submissions to the inquiry with many of them asking for laws to be brought in to curb the practice, noting that it often occurs in religious based organisations.

In their submission TransFolk of WA call for the government to Implement comprehensive conversion practices legislation in line with the SOGICE Survivor Statement, with particular focus on a civil response scheme. The group also calls for the government to fund educational campaigns to allow for the promotion of LGBTIQA+ inclusive practices. 

Equal Voices, which supports LGBTIQA+ people of faith, also call for the introduction of legislation also arguing that it must cover practices within religious organisations.

“As LGBTIQ+ Christians, we reject attempts to suppress or deny a person’s identity. We strongly support legislative change to outlaw conversion practices in any context.” the group said.

In a joint submission from the Youth Pride Network (YPN) and Ending Conversion Practices WA (ECPWA), Charlotte Glance also implores the government to use the SOGICE Survivors Statement as the guide for addressing the issue.

While Living Proud WA voiced their support for the submission from YPN and ECPWA, saying the Survivors Statement had their full support.

The allegations made towards the Esther Foundation are therefore extremely concerning and we fully support efforts to prevent this from happening again in the future.” said Barry Cosker, the organisation’s chair.

“We we consider conversion practices under any guise as harmful and unethical” Cosker wrote in the submission.

The call for specific legislation was also echoed by WA based LGBTIQA+ community organisation Rainbow Futures.

While the ACT, Queensland and Victorian governments have introduced dedicated legislation to ban the practices, the McGowan government has instead opted for a tightening up of the registration requirements for counselors.

Tasmania’s Liberal government is also currently considering introducing specific legislation to outlaw conversion practices.

The WA inquiry is being conducted by Labor MPs Chris Tallentire, Lisa Baker, Lisa Munday, Caitlin Collins, Kevin Michael and Stuart Aubrey.

Graeme Watson

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