NSW Parliament passes ban on conversion practices

NSW Parliament Alex Greenwich MP
Image: courtesy of Alex Greenwich

Survivors of harmful LGBTQ+ conversion practices have celebrated the passing of landmark legislation to ban them in NSW.

The NSW government’s bill passed 22 votes to 4 early on Friday morning after a marathon all-night sitting of parliament (pictured above).

The state’s new law criminalises conversion practices that seek to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity and cause serious mental or physical harm.

It also makes it illegal to take someone out of NSW to undergo a conversion practice. Survivors of the practices are also eligible for redress under the law.

Independent MP Alex Greenwich, who pushed for the laws, said, “The sun rises today on a state that’s safer for LGBTQ people.

“I’m grateful to the Minns Labor Government for delivering a prohibition on LGBTQ conversion practices, and working with me and so many stakeholders to get the balance right on this historic legislation.

“LGBTQ people are loved and beautiful, and futile attempts to change or suppress who we are will now be illegal in NSW.”

Sydney-based survivor Chris Csabs (pictured below) co-founded SOGICE Survivors, a group advocating for bans on harmful conversion practices.

Chris survived conversion practices over a long period of time in NSW and was experiencing “a mix of emotions” seeing the reform.

“LGBTQ+ people deserve to live in a state that is free from this kind of discriminatory and deeply harmful practice,” he said.

“I am thrilled that my home state has finally drawn a line in the sand to say that.”

chris csabs queensland government conversion therapy
Photo: SBS

Conversion practices have cost lives

Survivor Anthony Venn-Brown, CEO of Ambassadors & Bridge Builders International (ABBI), said conversion practices disguised as Christian “support” had cost people their lives.

“At last sanity has prevailed and New South Wales has banned conversion ‘therapy’,” he said.

“This legislation not only signifies that we are firmly rooted in the 21st century but also sends a powerful message: telling LGBTQ individuals that they are inherently flawed and in need of change belongs to a bygone era.

“Moreover, it serves as a sobering warning to those who’ve promoted those messages that there will be consequences of the harm they have inflicted, no matter how well-intentioned it is.”

Equality Australia CEO Anna Brown said the “historic” passage of the bill was the first major reform for NSW’s queer community in almost a decade.

“It is a landmark moment for our state, where the trailblazing 78ers first bravely stepped out of the bars and into the streets in protest,” she said.

“NSW has finally put an end to these archaic and harmful practices. They have caused untold harm and have no place in modern Australia.

“This law will save countless people from a lifetime of pain and in some cases save lives.

“It sends a powerful message that we are whole and valid, just as we are.”

Exemptions in the conversion practices bill

The NSW government’s bill has some allowances for religious groups. For example, religous leaders can still deliver a religious sermon that declares homosexuality is wrong.

Registered psychologists and families also get exemptions, with honest conversations in those situations still legal.

The NSW Anti-Discrimination Board can also disseminate information, conduct research and hold public inquiries about conversion practices.

Victoria, the ACT and New Zealand have already passed legislation banning the debunked and dangerous practices. Queensland has also passed a ban, but only on conversion practices in health settings.

Tasmania and South Australia are also currently considering reforms.

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

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Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

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