Survivors slam ‘useless’ Tas bill to ban conversion practices


Bron is a survivor of harmful conversion practices in Tasmania
Image: ABC News

Survivors of dangerous gay conversion practices say a draft bill to ban the practices in Tasmania contains too many loopholes, and won’t stop the practices from occurring.

Discredited and harmful so-called “conversion” practices aim to change, suppress or eradicate a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Tasmanian government released a draft bill to ban them last week, 18 months after a Tasmanian Law Reform Institute report recommended one.

The draft bill would make it a criminal offence to “attempt to change or eradicate a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity” in a way that causes them physical or mental harm.

But exemptions allow a defence if the person is an adult, consented to the practices and understood they could cause harm.

Attorney-General Guy Barnett said support provided “by health professionals, family and friends or in religious or spiritual settings” wouldn’t be conversion practices under the proposal.

‘So many loopholes’ in bill to ban conversion practices

Survivors and LGBTQIA+ groups are furious at these “loopholes” in the government’s draft legislation.

Speaking to ABC News, Tasmanian woman Bron Larkins (pictured above) recalled her mother taking her to a hypnotherapist eight times at age 16 to try and change her homosexuality.

“I’m gutted, this is not the legislation we wanted, not the legislation we hoped for,” she said.

“It’s going to have so many loopholes that the practices will still be able to continue.”

Bron recalled the hypnotherapist giving her a tape to listen to each night that told her gay people had something wrong with them, were child sex offenders, had experienced family trauma or were “pretending” for attention.

The experience caused the Tasmanian woman “long-lasting mental” and emotional anguish. As a result, Bron didn’t come out as same-sex attracted until age 30.

“I spent almost 20 years in therapy and that’s still ongoing to this day,” she told the ABC.

Draft bill ‘should be scrapped’

Equality Tasmania spokesperson Rodney Croome also slammed the “useless” draft bill, saying it was “irredeemable and should be scrapped”.

“The bill is full of loopholes that allow conversion practices and the harm they inflict to continue,” he said.

Rodney said this would happen “both in health and religious settings, under the guise of ill-informed terms like ‘support, assist, care and guidance’.”

He said allowing the practices with “consent” was impossible because people can’t “consent to a treatment that doesn’t work for a condition that doesn’t exist.”

“This is the kind of bill an anti-LGBTIQA+ group like the Australian Christian Lobby would draft,” he said.

“This bill is a far cry from the promise Premier Jeremy Rockliff made to implement the gold-standard recommendations of the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute.”

Public consultation on the Tasmanian government’s draft bill is open until February 16.

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.

Read more:

These conversion therapy survivors are still dealing with the trauma

Actor Tim Pocock recalls ‘soul-destroying’ gay conversion therapy

Conversion therapy ban needed after Christian rehab scandal

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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.

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

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