Tasmanian survivors of dangerous LGBT “conversion therapy” have laid bare their ongoing trauma in a major new report that calls for a statewide ban.
In the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute report, forty Tasmanian survivors shared experiences of undergoing the harmful “conversion” practices.
A 28-year-old trans person said they were subjected to conversion therapy after confiding in a pastor as a teenager. The pastor instructed them to have one-on-one “bible study” sessions to help “change their sinful heart”.
The survivor spoke of the long-term mental health impact of the experience.
“A month into my ‘rehabilitation’, I tried to kill myself. I left the church after that,” they said.
“I actually tried to kill myself a few more times over the next few years. I’d like to say I’m better these days, but I’m not. I’m still totally f___ed up.
“I don’t know if things will ever get better for me. But any laws that could stop this happening to someone else are a good thing as far as I’m concerned.”
Another survivor detailed their experiences of conversion therapy practices, including exorcisms, in churches around Launceston.
“I was involved from the ages of 16-36 with churches in the Launceston area,” they said.
“I went through many different types of conversion therapy from counselling, prayer groups [and] exorcism through prayer by strong Pentecostal believers. They claimed I had demons and the only way I could rid myself was to have them prayed out.
“This would involve multiple sessions, hours on end, with shouting, shaking and making the ‘demons’ manifest, call them by their names and rip them out of my being.”
Major report calls for Tasmania ‘conversion therapy’ ban
The TLRI said the evidence showed “conversion practices are happening in Tasmania, they have caused severe harm to people subjected to them and are a continuing risk.”
Every peak health body that responded to the TLRI inquiry called for the regulation and prohibition of conversion practices.
To ban them, the report recommended a series of amendments to five state laws to capture the full range of conversion practices and apply penalties.
The proposed law reform wouldn’t affect legitimate healthcare relating to sexual or gender identity from qualified health professionals.
Also, the ban wouldn’t affect statements or expressions of faith or supportive care or guidance of a child by a parent.
Widespread support for a ban on conversion practices
Equality Tasmania president Rodney Croome said the state’s LGBTIQ+ community and survivors welcomed the report as a blueprint for a ban.
“The TLRI report shows conversion practices still occur in Tasmania and cause deep harm,” he said.
“It also shows widespread support for banning conversion practices, including from all health organisations that made submissions to the TLRI inquiry.
“We believe the TLRI’s recommendations are a strong, well-thought-out response to help bring these practices to an end.”
Croome said the group is in discussion with state MPs on the best path forward.
“There’s a willingness to act. We look forward to working with all members of parliament to implement this report’s recommendations.”
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