The Queensland government has passed legislation banning health providers from using so-called “conversion therapy” on LGBTIQ Queenslanders.
Deputy Premier and Health Minister Steven Miles said the legislation, passed on Thursday afternoon, was the first of its kind in Australia targeting the “harmful, deceptive and unethical” practices.
“No treatment or practice can change a person’s sexual attraction or experience of gender,” Steven Miles said.
“Survivors of conversion therapy report experiencing deep feelings of shame, alienation and hopelessness. [These] often result in symptoms of depression, anxiety and thoughts of suicide.
“Expert bodies around the world strongly oppose the use of conversion therapy. It’s time to send a clear message that it’s unacceptable.
“An ideology that treats LGBTIQ people as broken or damaged has no place in our community.”
The laws ban health service providers from “attempting to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.”
The bill doesn’t ban practices related to supporting a person who is undergoing or considering a gender transition.
Providers found using the harmful “conversion” methods would face penalties of up to 18 months in prison.
LNP opposes bill banning ‘conversion therapy’
The state’s LNP Opposition voted down the clauses in the legislation banning conversion therapy. Shadow Health Minister Ros Bates said the laws “would turn doctors into criminals”.
She said health bodies had earlier criticised the draft bill for a lack of clarity around what practices would be banned in relation to gender dysphoria.
Steven Miles told parliament new amendments to the bill “removed any doubt” about whether “evidence-based and other clinically appropriate practices” were inadvertently banned.
The laws outlaw techniques or interventions “based on the premise that being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex is a defect or disorder,” he said.
“Examples of conversion therapy practices may include using shame or coercion to create aversion to same-sex attractions or to encourage gender-conforming behaviours,” he said.
Greens MP Michael Berkman supported the Bill, but echoed conversion therapy survivors’ concerns it doesn’t go far enough.
“The bill focuses solely on health practitioners, failing to address the fact the bulk of conversion therapy is most likely occurring in informal and religious settings,” Berkman said.
“The ban on this type of therapy should be extended to religious institutions. Funding for specialised support for survivors should also be prioritised.”
ACT government also introduces own legislation
Earlier on Thursday, the ACT government introduced its own legislation to ban “conversion therapy” against minors.
Under the proposed laws, people would face fines of up to $24,000 and 12 months jail for performing a “sexuality or gender identity conversion therapy” on a child or vulnerable person.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the legislation would protect young people from “coordinated and unregulated programs seeking to change their gender identity or sexuality.”
“The ACT government wants to send a clear message that [conversion practices] are not tolerated in our society,” Barr said.
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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