Religions to be exempt from NSW conversion therapy ban?

Conversion practices
Banning conversion practices was a commitments to the LGBTQIA+ community under Chris Minns. Photo by Phil Desveaux/Wikipedia Creative Commons

An Australian Muslim leader has claimed that the NSW Labor Government made a commitment to religious groups to exempt “religious counselling” practices from its proposed ban on gay and trans conversion practices or “therapies” in the state.

The Minns Labor Government made an election promise to the LGBTQIA+ community to ban conversion practices if it took power at the 2023 NSW State Election in March but delayed its own legislation to do so on November 24 last year.

21 days earlier, the Muhammadi Welfare Association posted a letter by Dr Ali Alsamail of the Australian Ahl Albair Islamic Centre to Facebook in which he spoke about his appointment to the NSW Government’s Faith Affairs Council to represent Shia Muslims.

“Some of the community’s achievements in the last 6 months have been affirming the ability to have parents choose to exempt their children from inappropriate content in schools [and] a commitment by the Attorney General that religious counselling would be excluded from the proposed laws relating to ‘conversion therapy’ …” Dr Alsamail wrote in the letter that was also dated November 3.

Despite being posted online since last year, the letter was not widely circulated at the time and has only now been publicised by the Rationalist Society of Australia.

During a budget estimates hearing in October last year One Nation Bankstown MP Tania Mihailuk told Education Minister Prue Car that religious groups were concerned that the government’s plans to ban conversion practices would “step into the area of religious prayer and instruction.”

“I will get advice from my department. We have to treat all these issues, as I’m sure you will be well aware and well versed in, with extreme care,” Minister Car said in response.

“We’re talking about people that have very deeply held religious views and also people for whom these are very sensitive issues.”

Dr Alsamail is one of twenty religious leaders that make up the NSW Government’s Faith Affairs Council.

The Rationalist Society of Australia is concerned that the council has no members representing the views of Atheists and other people without faith.

QNews will seek a response from the NSW Attorney General’s office after the Australia Day long weekend.

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Andrew M Potts

Andrew has been covering LGBTQIA+ issues for a range of publications in Australia over two decades and was the Asia-Pacific correspondent for global LGBTQIA+ news website Gay Star News.

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

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