November 25, 2020
This morning, the Victorian Government introduced a Bill to outlaw LGBTQ+ conversion practices. These harmful and damaging practices that attempt to change or suppress a person’s gender identity or sexual orientation will be prohibited by the Bill.
“This Bill sends a powerful message that LGBTQ+ people are whole and valid just as they are, and establishes powerful mechanisms to deal with incredibly harmful practices that LGBTQ+ people endure across Victoria,” said Anna Brown, CEO of Equality Australia.
“From consent based facilitation, investigation and enforcement action by the Equal Opportunity Commission, to criminal penalties for serious injury – this legislation provides a range of avenues to prevent harm and bring perpetrators to justice.”
Survivors can bring a complaint to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, which can also initiate its own investigation in serious and systemic cases and take enforcement action to prevent further harm.
Criminal offences outlined in the Bill will be based on existing criminal penalties for causing injury or serious injury.
The Bill has been introduced after comprehensive consultation, and is being welcomed by survivor groups.
Chris Csabs from Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Change Efforts (SOGICE) Survivors says that “the main priority when it comes to legislation is to stop the harm from occurring. We believe that this Bill is a big step in that direction.”
Nathan Despott from survivor-led advocacy group Brave Network says that “the Victorian Bill is vastly better than any bill developed in Australia to date” and describes the legislation as a “powerful Bill”.
Anna Brown says “We hope that the Bill will have broad support in the Victorian Parliament and we see the passage of this world-leading legislation. While no law can fix a complex social problem on its own, this Bill is a great step towards ending the incredible harm caused by attempted LGBTQ+ conversion practices.”
“Of course there remains much more to do to ensure LGBTIQ+ people are protected from harm including removing broad exemptions that allow religious institutions to discriminate against LGBTIQ+ people, and ensuring that intersex children are not subjected to unnecessary surgeries or medical treatment.”