Beauty / Wellbeing

Queensland is the first state to ban conversion therapy

queensland conversion therapy

On August 13 2020, politicians voted to criminalise conversion therapy in the state, making it the first state in Australia to make the practice illegal.

The new law will rule that healthcare professionals could face up to 18 months in jail for attempting to change or suppress a person's sexual orientation or gender identity using archaic and dehumanising practices such as aversion therapy, psychoanalysis and hypnotherapy.

When addressing the parliament on Thursday, Steven Miles, Queensland Health Minister urged the parliament that conversion therapy is a "highly destructive and unethical" practice.

"Being LGBTIQ is not an affliction or disease that requires medical treatment," Mr Miles said. "No treatment or practice can change a person's sexual attraction or experience of gender."

While the new law will communicate the Government's stance on the practice and protect LGBTQI+ folks from the risks of conversion therapy within the healthcare system (the law applies to medical professionals such as doctors, psychologists and counsellors), LGBTQI+ folks, especially LGBTQI+ youth remain at risk within faith communities, where conversion therapy is as pervasive as ever and the vast majority of survivors of conversion therapy today were subjected to it in more informal, religious group settings.

While the ban on conversion therapy will send a clear message in Queensland, the scope of who will actually be under protection remains narrow, leaving many gaps for those not among healthcare professionals to continue carrying out the practice, further subjecting the LGBTQI+ community to potential harm.

The ACT also revealed legislation to outlaw conversion practices, with individuals to face fines up to $24,000 or 12-months imprisonment - which so far, looks like a far wider scope of protection for the community at large. Meanwhile, the Andrews government in Victoria has spoken of plans to draft legislation that will additionally introduce an outright ban.

We still have a lot of work to do to ensure the safety, respect, and equity of the LGBTQI+ community within Australia throughout all aspects of our lives, so while it's important to look at the small wins, investigating the bigger picture will always be front-of-mind.


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