The Australian Capital Territory’s Chief Minister has announced his government plans to ban “gay conversion therapy”.
“Conversion therapy” refers to debunked and dangerous practices to change or suppress an individual’s sexual orientation or transgender identity, using psychological or spiritual means.
The announcement is part of the ACT’s new “action plan” for the territory’s LGBTIQ community. ACT Labor Chief Minister Andrew Barr (pictured) said his government would move to ban conversion therapy by the end of next year.
“Being told that you are broken, can break you,” Barr said.
“LGBT Canberrans are not sick or unnatural and we do not need to be ‘changed’, ‘cured’, ‘converted’, ‘healed’ or whatever term is used by practitioners [for] harmful and outdated ‘conversion therapy’.
“It’s time to put an end to this.”
Barr said every major Australian medical association had publicly condemned the practices.
“However, they continue to take place, increasingly outside of the health system, and often in dubious religious contexts,” he said.
“The ACT Government will introduce legislation to prohibit the practice in Canberra.
“This will be backed up by non-legislative measures aimed at education, prevention and support.”
Conversion therapy survivor Chris Csabs praised the government for the announcement.
“At 19, I moved to Canberra to take part in Living Waters, an ‘ex-gay’ ministry which is now defunct,” Chris said.
Csabs said the years of the dangerous therapy left him depressed and suicidal.
He praised the ACT Government for suggesting a “multi-pronged approach” including strategies alongside laws “to tackle not only the practices, but the ideology underpinning them.”
ACT also announces new transgender and intersex policies
The ACT Government’s Capital of Equality Action Plan aims to counter discrimination and provide support and services for the LGBTIQ community.
Under the plan, the Government will pass amendments to allow transgender and gender diverse people to more easily update birth certificates, particularly young people.
The Government will also consult on how to ban deferrable medical interventions on intersex people.
Victoria currently consulting on gay conversion therapy ban
Meanwhile, the Victorian Government also began consulting on their promised conversion therapy ban.
Earlier, an investigation by the Victorian Health Complaints Commissioner (HCC) found the practices caused long-term psychological harm.
The HCC recommended legislation to denounce conversion therapy and prohibit it in law. Premier Daniel Andrews then said the Victorian government had accepted the recommendation.
But he expressed concerns the new religious discrimination laws could jeopardise Victoria’s bid to prevent “conversion” therapists operating.
But Attorney-General Christian Porter claimed the government’s controversial bill “would not in any way affect” a state ban.