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Australian lawmakers vow vile conversion therapy ‘won’t be tolerated’ as state considers jailing practitioners

Patrick Kelleher November 25, 2020
A man clutching rosary beads to his head

Conversion therapy has been condemned by most major psychiatric bodies (Stock photograph via Elements Envato)

Traumatising conversion therapy “won’t be tolerated in Victoria”, the Australian state’s attorney general has said, as its government introduces legislation to outlaw the pseudoscientific practice.

The Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill 2020 was introduced to Victoria’s parliament on Wednesday (25 November) in an effort to ban the harmful practice of conversion therapy, which involves efforts to change an LGBT+ persons’s sexuality or gender identity.

If the bill is passed, practitioners of conversion therapy practices could be fined up to $10,000 (£5,500) and face up to 10-years in prison.

Furthermore, the law also would punish those who send people outside the state to undergo the traumatising practice in a territory where conversion therapy is not banned.

“We’re sending a clear message: no one is ‘broken’ because of their sexuality or gender identity,” Jill Hennessy, Victoria attorney general said, according to the Guardian.

“These views won’t be tolerated in Victoria and neither will these abhorrent practices.”

Victoria conversion therapy survivor shares their ordeal.

The news comes after Daniel Andrews, premier of Victoria, announced that conversion therapy would be banned in February 2019.

In a statement released at the time, Andrews said his government would “bring in laws to denounce and prohibit LGBTI conversion practices, ending the bigoted practice that has caused so much trauma to too many Victorians”.

Andrews announced the ban after an extensive investigation was conducted by the Health Complaints Commissioner (HCC), which found that those who had been subjected to conversion therapy experienced psychological harm and distress.

The Victoria government later released a report following a consultation process, which found that LGBT+ people and conversion therapy survivors were strongly in favour of banning the practice.

The report included quotes from conversion therapy survivors, with one person writing: “I went to prayer therapy with a small group associated with a breakaway Uniting church in New South Wales who thought I needed to fix my ‘sexual deviance’ by casting off demons that had been passed down family lines.”

The anonymous submission continued: “I internalised my feelings of shame to such a degree that my mental, physical and spiritual health all suffered. Suicidal ideation was an ongoing lived reality in my life alongside two failed suicide attempt and a complete breakdown which required hospitalisation.”

Conversion therapy has been condemned by various health and psychiatry bodies across the world, including the American Psychiatric Association, the American College of Physicians, and the American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry.

A UK survey of conversion therapy survivors, conducted in 2019 by the Ozanne Foundation, found that one in five people who had been through the practice later attempted suicide.

 

More: Australia, conversion therapy, Jill Hennessy, Victoria

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