Queensland becomes first Australian state to ban gay conversion therapy

Published by NEWS.COM.AU

Summary generated on August 14, 2020

    Queensland has become the first state in Australia to criminalise gay conversion therapy, after state politicians voted to make the "Highly destructive and unethical" practice illegal.

    "Being LGBTIQ is not an affliction or disease that requires medical treatment," the state's Health Minister, Steven Miles, said in parliament Thursday.

    "No treatment or practice can change a person's sexual attraction or experience of gender."

    Under the Health Legislation Amendment Bill, health professionals who attempt "To change or suppress a person's sexual orientation or gender identity" could face up to 18 months in prison, with a suite of practices including "Conditioning techniques such as aversion therapy, psychoanalysis and hypnotherapy, clinical interventions, including counselling, or group activities that aim to change or suppress a person's sexual orientation or gender identity" now illegal.

    While Mr Miles deemed the practices "Highly destructive and unethical", the bill was only passed 47-41 with the support of the Queensland Greens and Queensland Labor.

    The LNP, Bob Katter's Australia Party and One Nation voted against the ban, with the LNP claiming the law would "Turn doctors into criminals".

    "It is important that there are penalties for this dangerous and discredited practice," Mr Black said.

    "There continues to be a need for education and further research on the harms of conversion therapies, as well as support for survivors of conversion therapies."

    A 2018 landmark report by La Trobe University and the Human Rights Law Centre found conversion therapy is "Pervasive" in Australian faith communities, with at least 10 organisations offering the practice in Australia and New Zealand.

    The report highlighted disturbing testimonies from people who went through a form of gay conversion therapy - some willingly, others by force - in an attempt to become straight.

    Mary, not her real name, now 49 years old, was sent to conversion therapy after she told her mother she was in love with another young woman at her church group.

    "Then I remember going into another room with a surgical table, and being restrained having an electrode attached to my labia; and images projected on to the ceiling and a lot of pain from the electrodes; and being left there for quite a long time afterwards, exposed and alone," she told the researchers.

    Hers was just one of many testimonies included in the report.

    The Australian Capital Territory and Victoria have also committed to banning the harmful practice, with the ACT introducing a bill to outlaw conversion therapy for minors on Thursday.

    Last October, the Victorian government began public consultation on similar legislation, with Premier Daniel Andrews denouncing conversion therapy as "Bigoted quackery" in February last year.

    "What they really are is a most personal form of torture, a cruel practice that perpetuates the idea that LGBTI people are in some way broken," Mr Andrews said at the time.

    "Some survivors, seeking genuine professional support, have instead found themselves on the other end of this bigoted quackery. It's not LGBTI people who need to change. It's our laws."

    Chris Csbas, of SOGICE Survivors, told the Star Observerhe hopes this bill is just the beginning, with concerns that the ban "Only covers conversion practices in health services".

    "The concern is that a vast majority of survivors have gone through conversion practices in a religious or informal setting," he said, adding the bill "Is not going to be protective enough and it is not actually enough to stop the harm occurring".

    "I'm hoping that the other states will pass much broader laws that will address more than just health services. We're very hopeful that they will actually adopt the recommendations by survivors groups rather than just passing something really quickly."