Victoria is set to become the first state in Australia to introduce a ban on conversion therapy.
Daniel Andrews, Premier of Victoria (head of government) made the announcement at Midsumma Pride in St Kilda today.
In a statement posted to his website, Andrews’ office explained that his government “will bring in laws to denounce and prohibit LGBTI conversion practices, ending the bigoted practice that has caused so much trauma to too many Victorians.”
Andrews – who has held the post since 2014 and is a member of the Labour Party – intends to introduce the ban after an extensive investigation was completed by the Health Complaints Commissioner (HCC).
The investigation found that those who had been subjected to conversion therapy experienced psychological harm and distress.
The HCC recommended that legislation be introduced that would prohibit conversion therapy.
In addition, Andrews’ government has committed to funding counselling and support services for survivors of conversion therapy.
Conversion therapy is an ‘evil practice’
Speaking ahead of the Pride march, Andrews called conversion therapy an “evil practice” and said it had peddled “shame and stigma.”
“These activities – commonly referred to as ‘gay conversion therapy’ – claim to be able to change someone’s sexuality or gender identity,” Andrews said.
“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.
“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.”
Andrews said that his government intends to “put an end to the suffering and help survivors to heal.”
News.com.au has reported that Equality Minister Martin Foley has said that it will be a year before the legislation is introduced to parliament, so they can engage in a consultation process and ensure the laws are exactly right.
The Labour Government in Victoria has made a number of significant gestures to improve the lives of LGBT+ people in the state.
Since 2014, the government has invested more than $60 million in initiatives to make the community a fairer and more equal place for the LGBT+ community there.
The government in Victoria also appointed Victoria’s first Gender and Sexuality Commissioner and delivered legislation to provide equality in adoption.
What is conversion therapy?
LGBT+ charity Stonewall defines conversion therapy as “any form of treatment or psychotherapy which aims to change a person’s sexual orientation or to suppress a person’s gender identity.
“It is based on an assumption that being lesbian, gay, bi or trans is a mental illness that can be ‘cured.’ These therapies are both unethical and harmful.”
As a part of the UK government’s Action Plan, released last summer, they announced that they also plan to ban conversion therapy.
The survey found that 2 percent of 108,000 respondents had undergone conversion therapy, and 5 percent had been offered it.
In 2017, Australia voted in favour of equal marriage in a public postal vote. A recent study from researchers at the University of Syndey’s School of Psychology found that the vote caused lesbian, gay and bisexual people “psychological distress.”
Meanwhile, last year, Scott Morrison became Prime Minister of Australia. Morrison voted against same-sex marriage.
When asked about his stance on conversion therapy last September, Morrison said: “I respect people of all sexualities, I respect people of all religions, all faiths. I love all Australians.
“People should make their own choices about their lives.
“I’ve never been involved in anything like that, I’ve never supported anything like that, it’s just not an issue for me and I’m not planning to get engaged in the issue.”
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