The Victorian Government this week introduced a new bill seeking to protect adults and children from harmful and discredited conversion practices attempting to change sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.
In developing the Change and Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill, the government undertook research, an inquiry, and consultation with conversion survivors.
Advocates say the bill is of an “incredibly high standard” and surpasses any similar Australian legislation so far.
Thorne Harbour Health has announced its support for the bill.
“By passing this legislation, Victoria has a chance to lead the way globally in protecting the human rights of our sexually and gender diverse communities from incredibly harmful practices [that are] based on false and misleading claims,” said Thorne Harbour Health CEO Simon Ruth.
The bill seeks to establish civil and criminal penalties and ban both formal and informal conversion practices, covering contexts ranging from religious settings to healthcare.
It would also prohibit advertising, promoting, and referring people to paid or unpaid conversion practices.
If passed, the bill would also provide investigative powers to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.
“Difference is not a defect,” said Ruth.
“LGBTQA+ people are not ‘broken’ or ‘disordered’.
“It is vital that we stop so-called practitioners, whether in informal or formal settings, from performing practices that traumatise participants.”
Rebecca Baxter, a steering committee member of support and advocacy group Brave Network, said that the bill is “informed by the lived experience of survivors”.
“[It] seeks to end these practices, which are harmful and grounded in unscientific claims,” said Baxter.
A range of support initiatives for survivors will include investigations into potential conversion practices to employ strategies that prevent re-traumatisation.
Thorne Harbour Health is encouraging Victorians to show their support for the bill by contacting their local MP.
The organisation also invites community members to attend its upcoming Community Briefing this Monday 30 November from 6 pm.
Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory have recently introduced laws against conversion practices, though these have been criticised for not going far enough, particularly in Queensland.
Tasmania and South Australia are also currently considering legislation against anti-LGBTQA+ conversion.