Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has announced new legislation to outlaw harmful “gay conversion” therapy in the state.
The discredited practices attempt to change or suppress an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity using psychological or spiritual means, and have been condemned by major health bodies around the world.
Speaking at the 2019 Midsumma Pride March on Sunday, Andrews said the proposed ban comes after an investigation by the state’s Health Complaints Commissioner (HCC), who found those exposed to the practices experienced long-term psychological harm and distress.
The HCC has recommended legislation be introduced to denounce conversion therapy and prohibit it in law, a recommendation the Victorian Government has accepted, Andrews said.
“What [these practices] really are is a most personal form of torture, a cruel practice that perpetuates the idea that LGBTI people are in some way broken,” he said in a statement.
“Some survivors, seeking genuine professional support, have instead found themselves on the other end of this bigoted quackery.
“Others have sought it out, forced to believe that they somehow need to be ‘cured’. But it’s not LGBTI people who need to change. It’s our laws.
“Here in Victoria, not only are you good enough, you’re worth celebrating.”
There’s a bit more information about why we’re doing this here: https://t.co/z6khC2Katl
— Dan Andrews (@DanielAndrewsMP) February 2, 2019
Victoria’s Equality Minister Martin Foley said development of the legislation is expected to take at least 12 months to allow for consultation with survivors, the state’s LGBTIQ Taskforce and community and faith-based organisations.
“The Health Complaints Commission’s report points to some deep-seated, well-entrenched practices here,” he said.
“We want to make sure we don’t push those practices to the fringe of society and underground, so getting this right is quite a complex process.”
The Victorian government also gave in-principle support to funding counselling and support services for survivors of “gay conversion therapy” practices.
In 2017, the Victorian Government first gave the state’s Health Complaints Commissioner the power to investigate and ban health practitioners who treat homosexuality as a disorder.
Last October, a report from La Trobe University documented the experiences of more than a dozen LGBT survivors of harmful “gay conversion” or “ex-gay” therapies over the decades, with the report claiming the practices remain a “real problem” in Australia’s religious communities.
One participant underwent extreme “aversion” therapy in the 1980s that involved ice baths and electroshock therapy.
But another survivor told researchers it was the “insidious and unrelenting ex-gay messaging” they were subjected to over a long period of time that “ate away” at their wellbeing and self-worth.
In September, a coalition of survivors, LGBTIQ advocates and churches urged federal MPs to address the issue.
They delivered a 43,000-signature petition calling for an inquiry into the issue, greater powers for health and consumer watchdogs, tougher regulations for counsellors, and a public health and awareness campaign.
(Photo via Twitter)