Survivors welcome NSW Labor commitment to end LGBTQA+ conversion practices

February 11, 2023 - Survivor advocates and Equality Australia have today welcomed the NSW Labor Party’s commitment to end LGBTQ+ conversion practices, calling for a multipartisan approach to ending these deceptive and harmful practices that seek to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity before the state election.

“Today’s announcement by NSW Labor is an incredible moment, a major step toward ensuring that every person in NSW is respected for who they are, and can live their life with dignity, free from harm”, said Ghassan Kassisieh, Legal Director at Equality Australia.

“Practices seeking to change or suppress a person’s sexuality or gender identity cause real and lasting harm and are not supported by any medical or psychological professional association.”

“Today we stand with survivors in commending NSW Labor on their announcement and calling on all NSW political parties to commit to ending these deceptive and harmful practices that seek to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.”

NSW is lagging behind other states and territories that have already acted to protect people from the harms caused by LGBTQ+ conversion practices,” said Ghassan Kassisieh, Legal Director of National LGBTIQ+ group Equality Australia.  

Cofounder of survivors group SOGICE Survivors (1), Chris Csabs, welcomed the announcement. 

“Conversion practices are based on the idea that LGBTQ+ people are broken or disordered and need to be ‘healed’, ‘treated’ or ‘suppressed’. 

“Today we commend NSW Labor on their announcement and urge all political parties to commit to reforms that end these deceptive practices.”

“The National Conversion Ideology and Practices Research Project being led by La Trobe University has already shown that conversion practices are occurring all over the country, including in NSW. 

“A multipartisan commitment to ending conversion practices gives NSW the chance to protect its LGBTQA+ community from something that we know significantly and profoundly harms them. If we don’t, NSW could become a ‘safe haven’ for these damaging practices to continue,” Mr Csabs concluded. 

Survivors groups urged whoever wins the upcoming election to model legislation on the survivor-led scheme in Victoria, reflected in Independent Member for Sydney, Alex Greenwich’s bill announced yesterday.

“Any scheme must contain components that survivors of LGBTQ+ conversion practices know are needed for to make a difference and to stop the harm,” said Chris Csabs, co-founder of SOGICE Survivors. 

“Victoria’s world-leading scheme was developed in close consultation with survivors. Whoever wins the state election must consult with survivors, faith organisations and health professionals to put in place a process to end the practices impacting LGBTQA+ people in NSW”

“The government of the day must work closely with survivors and other stakeholders to end these practices, sometimes referred to as so-called “conversion therapy”, in both health and religious settings.  

Anthony Venn-Brown, CEO of Ambassadors & Bridge Builders International (ABBI), said legislation banning conversion practices was long overdue. 

 “I’m very familiar with the serious harms caused by so-called conversion “therapy” as I lived through it myself and have worked with over 4000 survivors,” he said. 

“Half a century ago the American Psychiatric Association found homosexuality was not a mental disorder, illness or perversion and people didn’t need ‘fixing’.” 

“There was a time when ignorance about sexual orientation and gender identity could be excused. That time has passed and the ongoing global and national push to protect vulnerable LGBTQ people sends a clear message – the harm has to stop,” he concluded.

(1)  SOGICE stands for “Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Change Efforts”.

Media Contact: Tara Ravens 0408 898 154, tara.ravens@equalityaustralia.org.au