Survivors of anti-LGBTQA+ conversion practices have been applauded for their work towards the passage of the Victorian Government’s new ban, which advocates say will save lives.
The long-awaited Change and Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill bans any person from delivering conversion practices to another, with a range of criminal penalties attached.
The legislation also creates a new civil scheme, giving investigative powers to Victoria’s Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.
Nathan Despott from Victorian survivor support group Brave Network said that the legislation sets a new global standard due to its inclusion of recommendations from Australian survivors.
Global research has found that conversion practices cause significant trauma, withincreased suicidality, decreased work success, and increased risk of homelessness.
“Research released by La Trobe University earlier this month overwhelmingly demonstrates that conversion practices primarily occur in informal, religious spaces, grounded in an ideology of ‘brokenness’ and often cloaked as ‘pastoral care’,” said Despott.
Australia’s first legislation against conversion in other states was criticised for failing to cover such informal settings.
“By addressing these settings, this law will set a new global standard,” said Despott.
“Survivors are so pleased that the Victorian Parliament and broader community have rejected the myth that the bill was vague or excessive.
“In reality, a ban that did not cover informal, religious practices would not have been a ban at all, but rather an endorsement for the conversion movement’s activities to flourish.”
Chris Csabs from advocacy group SOGICE Survivors said the new legislation was developed with detailed input from survivors of anti-LGBTQA+ conversion practices and is deeply grounded in the latest Australian research.
“This legislation has utilised many of the recommendations in the SOGICE Survivor Statement, which means that it is largely survivor-informed,” said Csabs.
“It is beyond exciting that this has resulted in gold-standard legislation that will act as a powerful deterrent, ultimately saving lives.”
Csabs said that both Brave Network and SOGICE Survivors wanted to see an end to the harm caused by conversion practices “so that all Victorians, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity, can live authentically and with pride”.
The survivor organisations and other advocacy groups called for other Australian jurisdictions to follow Victoria’s example.
“We urge other states and territories to follow Victoria’s lead,” said just.equal spokesperson Rodney Croome.
“Australia owes survivor advocates a debt of gratitude, not least for the lives their work will save.”
Jewish LGBTIQ group Aleph Melbourne thanked all those instrumental in the “visionary” laws for their dedication.
“Many same-sex attracted and gender diverse Jews have been victims of disreputable people and organisations within and beyond the Jewish community who have performed destructive conversion practices, often with long-lasting negative or even fatal consequences,” said a spokesperson.
“This legislation sends a clear message that no longer is it acceptable or legal to tell someone they are broken because of their gender identity or sexual orientation and then attempt to make the person conform to an unnatural identity.”