Experts critical of ‘toxic’ opposition to conversion practices ban

Glen Worrell conversion therapy survivor australia
Glen is a survivor of conversion therapy practices. Image: Supplied

A forum held yesterday in Hobart saw 120 attendees commit to learning why conversion practices should be banned.

Ending Conversion Practices: An experts forum on the path forward’presented expert perspectives on enacting legislation that prohibits conversion practices.

Studies have found that one in 20 LGBTQIA+ Tasmanians has experienced conversion practices.

Additionally, LGBTQIA+ people who experience conversion therapy are more likely than their peers to attempt suicide.

Equality Tasmania spokesperson Lucy Mercer-Mapstone said this is not a standard Tasmania should accept.

“[The forum] is an indication that Tasmanians are willing to stand up and fight for equality, safety, and inclusion in the face of cruelty, bigotry, and hate,” Dr Mercer-Mapstone said.

Australian Medical Association Tasmania vice president Annette Barrett also spoke of the harm inflicted by conversion practices.

“All the studies conclude that conversion practices are harmful,” Dr Barrett said.

“The AMA, along with the Australian Psychological Association believe conversion practices should and must be banned.”

Additionally, Uniting Church minister Rev Michael Duke spoke about opposing conversion practices because he is a Christian.

“Jesus talked about justice. He challenged social mores. The point at which I stand in solidarity with my homosexual friends is a position I hold that comes from my faith and my understanding of what Jesus would do.”

Also speaking at the forum was conversion practices survivor Glen Worrell.

“My motivation for sharing my story is that I don’t want anyone to ever live the life that I have lived,” he said.

Conversion practices backlash is ‘the most toxic in Australia’

However, national conversion survivor advocate Nathan Despott said the opposition to a Tasmanian conversion therapy ban was “toxic”.

“It’s very encouraging that the Premier has committed to implementing the model for legislation proposed by the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute,” he said.

“But the backlash to this commitment is deeply misleading and the most toxic in Australia. It is grounded in the view that LGBTIQA+ people are inherently broken, a view that has no place in Tasmanian health services or faith communities.

“We owe it to survivors to ensure the backlash fails and the final legislation is as strong as it can be. ”

Also critical of the backlash was Dr Mercer-Mapstone

“The messages spread by naysayers are abhorrent, hurtful, and fundamentally inaccurate,” she said.

“In particular, the Australian Christian Lobby published full-page advertisements that spread misinformation about conversion practice legislation.

“With the obvious goal of perpetuating harm against the LGBTQIA+ community by allowing conversion practices to continue.”

If you need someone to talk to, help is available from QLife on 1800 184 527 or online at, Lifeline on 13 11 14, Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.

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