The McGowan government has announced that it will introduce LGBTQ+ conversion laws following the tabling of a scathing parliamentary report on what is alleged to have occurred at the long-established Christian rehabilitation centre, Esther House. The statement says that the Government “will move to criminalise practices that seek to change or suppress an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity.”  This is the kind of language used by the Andrews Government in Victoria. Just what form the legislation will take is still unclear. Part of the media statement says that the government is opposed “to attempts to forcibly change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.” We would agree that attempts to forcibly change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity is inappropriate.

But it is imperative that the proposed LGBTQ+ conversion laws do not prevent doctors, psychologists, counsellors and faith groups from providing patient-led, evidence based, proven therapy for people struggling with their sexual orientation or gender identity. The fact that the government statement says that the legislation, “will not interfere with health professionals’ ability to provide suitable therapy and counselling to LGBTQA+ patients” suggests that they are aware of the problems that the Victorian legislation has caused by its overly broad definition of ‘conversion or suppression therapy’ which labels anything other than affirming a person in their chosen sexual orientation or gender identity, as a conversion or suppression practice. Of particular concern to faith communities is the inclusion in the media statement of ‘teachings’ as being a conversion or suppression practice.

ACL has issued a media statement calling on the McGowan government to consult widely with health professionals and the large and growing community of people who have de-transitioned from their trans and same sex attracted identity by working through childhood trauma with counselling. Faith communities will also need to be consulted to ensure that the religious freedom of Muslim, Jewish, Sikh and Christian communities is respected. Peter Abetz, the WA State Director of the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) urged the government not to emulate the mistakes of the Andrews government in drafting the legislation. Abetz said, “The Victorian legislation was opposed by the LGB Alliance, the AMA, the College of Practicing Psychiatrists and other professional groups, as its definition of conversion and suppression practices was far too broad.

Source: Australian Christian Lobby

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