Survivors of anti-LGBTQ ‘conversion therapies’ have written to Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, seeking a pre-election pledge to amend recently enacted law against the practices.
Nathan Despott, from survivor group Brave Network, said that the Queensland legislation passed last week exempts religious organisations and is largely “useless”.
“We believe the Queensland government can do much better than this, and we are calling on the premier to pledge further reform if re-elected in October,” said Despott.
The letter to Premier Palaszczuk is co-signed by Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Change Efforts (SOGICE) Survivors and endorsed by Reverend Josephine Inkpin from Equal Voices Queensland and Jason Masters from the Uniting Network.
It represents a collective plea by Australia’s foremost survivor advocacy groups.
Despott said that the majority of conversion practices occur in informal and religious settings, which the Queensland law does not cover.
“This means only a tiny portion of people who have survived or are still experiencing conversion practices, including children, are helped by this legislation,” said Despott.
“It is not just imperfect legislation, it is actually dangerous legislation, because it effectively gives permission for the worst offenders to continue.
“Queensland’s law may be the first, but it’s also the least helpful of the many approaches used globally.”
SOGICE Survivors spokesperson Chris Csabs said the legislation also fails to address the ideology behind conversion practices.
“The false claims at the heart of conversion practices are grounded in pseudoscientific concepts thoroughly rejected by Australia’s peak psychological health bodies,” said Csabs.
“While often masked as theological, these concepts must be viewed as therapeutically fraudulent.”
The letter accused the government of failing to address the religious context of most conversion practices.
“Australia’s survivor networks are experiencing significant distress due to this legislation’s almost complete inability to address the drivers of harm and the context in which almost all of it occurs,” it reads.
SOGICE Survivors and Brave also criticised the language used in the legislation, which went against their recommendations to the government.
Despott said that survivor groups had made 13 key recommendations for framing the legislation, but only three were adopted – including the groups’ lowest priority.
The letter includes calls for a commitment to amend the legislation to include religious groups and establish a survivor support redress scheme.