August 27 2020
This afternoon the ACT Government has today passed its Sexuality and Gender Identity Conversion Practices Bill.
“While no law can fix a complex social problem on its own, this law is an important step along the way to ending the harm caused by these damaging practices.” said Equality Australia CEO Anna Brown.
The law prohibits any person engaging in a treatment or practice intended to change another person’s sexuality or gender identity, such as counselling based on misleading claims that people can be ‘cured’ to live as straight, or that trans people are ‘broken’.
Affirming a person’s identity, providing acceptance, support or understanding, or helping a person to explore or develop their own identity, are not conversion practices. Neither are safe and appropriate health services, or health services which a provider reasonably considers meets their professional or legal obligations.
The Human Rights Commission will have powers to investigate, receive complaints regarding conversion practices, and refer appropriate cases to a tribunal. The tribunal will then be able to make orders preventing conversion practices which are shown to be harmful from occurring, and providing redress and compensation to survivors who have been harmed by them.
Conversion practices performed on a child or a person with impaired decision-making ability, or removing a person from the ACT for the purpose, will also be criminalised.
Anna Brown continued “The law must be met with redress and support for current survivors, and investment in programs to build awareness of the harm caused by conversion therapy so we can finally end these damaging practices for good,”
“A two year statutory review will mean that the effectiveness of this law can be monitored, to ensure it is working as intended. It will allow communities to monitor the law to ensure it has properly addressed any advertising or promotion of conversion practices, and prevented practices that force people to suppress who they are,”
“LGBTQ people are whole. They are perfect as they are, and deserve to live with the dignity and respect afforded to everyone.” ended Brown.
Chris Csabs from Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity Change Efforts (SOGICE) Survivors said that “in passing this law, the ACT government has sent a strong message that conversion practices, whether performed by a health professional, a religious leader or any other person, are not to be tolerated”.
Isabel Mudford, Chair of the LGBTIQ Ministerial Advisory Council said “This legislation is a powerful message that LGBTQ people are members of our community who are worthy of protection and inclusion just as they are,”
“We welcome this legislation and look forward to working with the government and survivor groups to ensure that the implementation of these protections is effective and meaningful for our communities.”