Queensland’s Health Minister Steven Miles has announced the state government will ban harmful “gay conversion therapy” practices.
The practices widely known as “conversion” therapy involve attempts to change sexual orientation or gender identity using psychological or spiritual means.
Steven Miles told state parliament on Thursday the practices are proven to be harmful and last year he convened a roundtable of LGBTIQ leaders, doctors, healthcare workers and gay conversion therapy survivors.
He said the government is now introducing a bill, based on the roundtable’s recommendations, that would punish anyone found guilty of the practices with fines or even imprisonment.
“Practices that try to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity have always been immoral and unethical,” he said.
“Now they will be illegal. Gay conversion therapy is based on the belief that being LGBTIQ is a disorder that requires correction.
“The Palaszczuk government utterly rejects the notion that LGBTIQ people are broken or sick.
“These ideas have long been discredited by the medical community and are not evidence-based.
“There is overwhelming evidence that gay conversion therapy is harmful and correlates with high rates of suicide and self-harm.”
‘There is nothing wrong with you’
Health Minister Steven Miles said the provisions in the Health Legislation Amendment Bill would create a new offence applying “to health service providers, including anyone who provides services for maintaining a person’s health or wellbeing.”
The proposed ban would cover all health professionals – registered or otherwise – and organisations providing health services, he said.
Penalties for offenders would include fines and up to 12 months’ imprisonment. Providers who perform conversion therapy on children and other vulnerable people face up to 18 months’ imprisonment.
The Queensland Council for LGBTI Health (formerly the Queensland AIDS Council) welcomed the introduction of the legislation.
“Conversion therapy is a dangerous and discredited practice that is opposed by all Australian health authorities,” said Peter Black, the President of Queensland Council for LGBTI Health.
“This ban sends a clear message to Queenslanders that conversion therapy is harmful in all contexts and that people should be nurtured and protected so they can live and love without fear of abuse, ridicule or exclusion.”
Steven Miles told the parliament on Thursday, “To young people 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.”
The bill was referred to a parliamentary committee for consideration and is expected to be debated in the new year.
Major medical bodies worldwide condemn gay conversion therapy
Major medical bodies around the world have discredited and condemned “gay conversion” or “ex-gay” therapies as dangerous and harmful.
Earlier this month, the ACT government pledged to ban the practices before the end of next year.
ACT leader Andrew Barr said the legislation would also be “supported by non-legislative measures aimed at education, prevention and support.”
The Victorian government is also proceeding with a ban, and recently wrapped up a consultation period on prohibiting the therapies.
An investigation by the Victorian Health Complaints Commissioner (HCC) found the practices caused long-term psychological harm.
The HCC recommended state legislation to denounce conversion therapy and prohibit it in law.
Last year, a LaTrobe University report revealed the long-term harm the therapies inflicted on Australian survivors.
The report found at that time 10 organisations in Australia and New Zealand were advertising the provision of “conversion” therapies.
For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.