The Greens have passed a motion in the Senate condemning harmful “gay conversion” therapy.
The motion condemned “all forms of gender and sexual orientation change efforts” and called on the federal government to advocate Australia’s states and territories ban the practices.
“Gay conversion” or “reparative” therapy is the dangerous and discredited practice of attempting to “change” sexual orientation using psychological or spiritual means.
The practices have been widely condemned as unethical and harmful by numerous bodies around the world including the United Nations, the Australian Psychological Society, and peak psychology bodies in the US and the UK.
“All LGBTIQ+ people should be able to live and practise faith without pressure to change or suppress their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression,” the motion read.
The Greens LGBTIQ spokesperson Senator Janet Rice, who tabled the motion, said she was pleased it passed and took Prime Minister Scott Morrison to task for saying last week he wouldn’t engage on the issue.
“I think people should make their own choices about their own lives. I’ve never been involved in anything like that, I’ve never supported anything like that,” Morrison said.
“It’s just not an issue for me and I’m not planning to get engaged in the issue.”
Senator Rice told the Senate she had heard conversion therapy survivors’ “harrowing” stories and urged the government to work to ban the practices throughout Australia.
“For the Prime Minister to dismiss this as an issue that’s ‘not for him’ is an absolute disregard of duty,” she said.
“He said this wasn’t an issue for him after survivors of conversion attempts and sexual orientation change efforts sent an open letter to the Prime Minister and the opposition leader, Bill Shorten, calling for a multipartisan crackdown on these dangerous, harmful practices.”
Liberal Senator Mitch Fifield, the manager of government business in the Senate, said in response to the motion that the issue “is one for states and territories to monitor and take appropriate action.”
“The Sex Discrimination Act 1984 provides protection from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status in areas of public life,” he said.
“Conversion therapies aim to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, and there is no scientific or medical evidence to support their use.
“For example, the Victorian Health Complaints Commissioner can investigate unregistered doctors and health service providers making unethical representations — including conversion therapists.
“Queensland and Western Australia are also considering whether law reform is needed to outlaw this therapy.”
In June, Senator Rice shared with the Senate the story of Canberra man Chris Csabs, who survived “gay conversion” therapy and started a petition calling for it to be banned nationwide.