Australian social workers call for ban on ‘conversion therapy’ on IDAHOBIT


Two youths marching in a pride parade with a rainbow flag and a 'born this way' banner
Photo: Jordan Hirst

The Australian Association of Social Workers has called on the next federal government to ban harmful LGBT “conversion therapy” in a message on IDAHOBIT.

The International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia is recognised every year on May 17. It’s the day in 1990 that homosexuality was removed from the World Health Organisation’s International Classification of Diseases.

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The day aims to raise awareness of LGBTIQ rights and spotlight the discrimination that many LGBTIQ people worldwide continue to experience.

The AASW’s National President Christine Craik said on federal election eve they were calling on the next government to ban so-called “conversion therapy” across the nation.

So-called “conversion” therapies are the dangerous and discredited practice of trying to change or suppress sexual orientation using psychological or spiritual means.

“As social workers, we have noticed that the use of these discredited therapies has actually been on the rise in Australia,” Ms Craik said.

“It is a situation we have been monitoring.

“As a profession, it can sometimes be our job to help undo the damage that these so-called ‘therapies’ can cause to families and individuals.”

Ms Craik said much action is still needed to counter discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in Australia.

“We’re saddened and disappointed that homophobic, biphobic, intersexist and transphobic views continue to be broadcast, and given air time in our media and community,” she said.

“We only have to look at highly influential but misinformed media commentary which led to the ultimate disbandment of the Safe Schools program nationally.

“We want to see the Safe Schools program reinstated in its full scope and we urge the next government to do so. These programs save lives.”

Australia must promote LGBTIQ rights abroad

Ms Craik said Australia should use its influence abroad to promote human rights and counter homophobia, biphobia, intersexism and transphobia internationally.

“It would be great to see our political leaders taking a diplomatic stance on Brunei, which recently introduced and then retracted the death penalty for homosexuality. It remains illegal though.

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“It’s good to see the recent boycotts have gone some way to working.

“Brunei is a fellow Commonwealth country and one in our region. Now is the time for political leaders to flex diplomatic muscle and use it to promote human rights.”

Australia will go to the polls in the federal election tomorrow (May 18).

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