The practice of gay conversion therapy will be banned in Victoria, after the Health Complaints Commissioner found “overwhelming evidence” it does serious and long-term harm to those who receive it. Victoria will be the first jurisdiction in Australia to outlaw the practice of psychological therapy or counselling to try to suppress or change a person’s sexuality or gender identity. In some cases conversion therapy includes exorcisms, the Health Complaints Commissioner’s inquiry found.
Premier Daniel Andrews announced the ban of what he called “bigoted quackery” in St Kilda on Sunday, before the start of the annual pride march.
The government will seek to pass legislation outlawing the practice this year.
The Australian Christian Lobby's managing director Martyn Iles has described laws against conversion therapy as "a dangerous policy for parents, counsellors and even medical practitioners with a faith identity".
Martin Foley, the Minister for Equality, said the legislation would strike a balance between enforcement and education.
“The Commissioner’s report points to some deep-seated, well entrenched practices here,” Mr Foley said. “We want to make sure that we don’t push those practices to the fringe of society and underground, so getting this right is actually quite a complex process.”
Victorian Labor’s stance is more hardline than federal Labor, which opted at its most recent national conference in December against adopting a policy to ban the practice. The Australian Christian Lobby had petitioned against a ban before the conference, gathering tens of thousands of signatures.