“Various parts of the Religious Discrimination Bill will give heart to those who support conversion practices, with their cumulative effect being to re-legitimise this damaging movement." - Nathan Despott
"Freedom of religion must not be twisted to permit freedom to torture and torment." - Brian Greig
The federal government’s proposed Religious Discrimination Bill will allow anti-LGBTIQ+ church groups to promote conversion practices, sometimes known as “conversion therapy.”
A special provision in the draft legislation that protects “statements of belief” (section 41.1.c) would allow the Attorney General to over-ride future state laws prohibiting the promotion of the harmful and discredited practices.
Sections 15 and 16 of the Bill could also make it harder to deregister a counsellor who engages in conversion practices based on their religious beliefs.
Spokesperson for just.equal, Brian Greig, said while states could still legislate to ban conversion practices the draft federal bill would permit anti-LGBTIQ+ religious organisations to advocate for the practices.
“Conversion practices were invented by U.S. churches that believe being LGBTIQ+ people are broken”, Mr Greig said. “They have been denounced by psychological associations worldwide as misleading, harmful and damaging.”
“Allowing religious organisations to continue to claim that LGBTIQ+ people are ‘broken’ and can be 'fixed' is not freedom, it is cruelty, especially when inflicted on children,” he said.
"Freedom of religion must not be twisted to permit freedom to torture and torment."
Nathan Despott, a spokesperson for the conversion practices survivor group, Brave Network, said,
“Various parts of the Religious Discrimination Bill will give heart to those who support conversion practices, with their cumulative effect being to re-legitimise this damaging movement.
"This is because 'conversion ideology', the pseudoscience behind conversion practices, is frequently being claimed by religious groups as theologically central to their faith. We dispute this claim.”
“Many people have been traumatised by the experience of conversion practices and it has been directly linked to depression, anxiety and suicide by LGBTIQ+ people who have suffered under its false premise and delusional claims.”
“Opening up a wider space for conversion practices is deeply irresponsible.”
Section 41(1)(c) of the draft Bill gives express permission for the federal Attorney-General to override state laws that limit “statements of belief” which could include statements in favour of conversion practices.
Section 15 and 16 prevent professional bodies from de-registering members on the basis of religious belief, which could also include belief in conversion practices.
For a copy of this statement on the web, click here
For more information contact Brian Greig on 0407 776 961 or Nathan Despott on 0412 007 411.