The Queensland government is expected to pass a Bill outlawing harmful LGBT “conversion therapy” this week.
The legislation will stop health service providers using therapies that attempt to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
Those providers who use such methods on gay or transgender Queenslanders would face penalties of up to 18 months in prison.
Introducing the Bill in November, Health Minister Steven Miles (pictured) said the practices have “always been unethical, but now they will be illegal.”
“There is overwhelming evidence that gay conversion therapy is harmful and correlates with high rates of suicide and self-harm,” he said.
“To young people out there who might hear this, who are still figuring out who they are, there is nothing wrong with you.
“If one day you fall in love with someone the same gender as you, there is nothing wrong with you.
“You can’t be fixed because you are not broken. Anyone who tells you otherwise is wrong. Your government supports you.”
Penalties for offenders would include fines and up to 12 months’ imprisonment.
Those who perform conversion therapy on children and other vulnerable people face up to 18 months’ imprisonment.
Major medical bodies around the world condemn “gay conversion” or “ex-gay” therapies as dangerous and harmful.
Conversion therapy survivors say more action needed
In 2018, conversion therapy survivors penned the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Change Efforts (SOGICE) Survivor Statement.
Responding to the Queensland legislation, the groups SOGICE Survivors and Brave Network warn the bill isn’t enough on its own.
“The bulk of harm occurs over time in informal settings, such as pastoral care in faith communities, not in therapeutic contexts,” they said.
“This harm is driven by [people hearing] false and misleading claims over a long period of time.
“Because of this, legislation aimed solely at health service providers using ‘therapy’ is not going to solve the problem.
“A response to conversion practices needs to address the ideology that underpins them.”
This includes false claims about “origins, causes, nature, essence, brokenness and ‘solutions'” regarding same-sex attraction and gender identity, they said.
The two groups say in 2020, regulated health professionals are “only very rarely involved” in conversion therapy practices.
“Any response must engage the currently undefined label of ‘pastoral care’,” they said.
“This role often poorly mimics aspects of counselling and psychology.”
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