9 September 2020
Conversion survivors write to State Governments
Advocates urge best legislation nationwide
Survivors of LGBTQA+ conversion practices have written to state and territory governments which have not yet banned such practices.
In the wake of new conversion practices laws in Queensland and the ACT that do not cover all concerns of survivors, the letter (which is attached) outlines ten key policy objectives that advocacy groups want to see included in any future legislation.
Tasmania, South Australia and Victoria are currently considering legislation.
Nathan Despott from survivor advocacy group Brave Network said that for any anti-conversion legislation to be truly effective, law makers must listen to those who have been through it.
“As the primary Australian bodies advocating for survivors we are offering our support, research, expertise and policy aspirations to all state governments in helping frame the best, most effective legislation to combat this insidious movement,” he said.
Queensland was the first jurisdiction to pass legislation, but survivor groups were strongly critical of that Bill which does not cover informal and religious settings.
“Given more than 90 per cent of conversion practice takes place in religious settings we regard that legislation a wasted opportunity.
“The ACT legislation is vastly better. It covers religious settings, focuses on the intent of the practitioner, protects adults and children, and gives broad investigative powers to the ACT Human Rights Commission,” Mr Despott said.
Chris Csabs from Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Change Efforts (SOGICE) Survivors said that as momentum builds around the country for more states and territories to tackle this issue, the opportunity arises for each new Bill to improve on the last.
“Our experience is that the ability of laws to stop harm against LGBTQA+ people and effect real change is critically dependent on the extent to which policy-makers consult with survivors.
“We have years of experience in international analysis, research, anecdotal case studies and policy development.
“Even well-intentioned laws can miss some nuanced ways in which conversion ideology and practices occur,” he said.
Brave and SOGICE Survivors say the complex systems of coercion and suppression through informal, unregulated contexts can often be overlooked or not fully understood by law makers.
The letter to state ministers outlines 10 key policy objectives that advocacy groups want to see included in any future legislation. These include:
- Strongly affirm that LGBTQA+ people are not ‘broken’ or ‘disordered’
- Ban practices in both formal (medical/psychology/counselling) and informal (including religious) settings, whether paid or unpaid
- Protect adults, children, and people with impaired agency, including prohibition of the removal of children from the jurisdiction for the purpose of conversion practices
- Target the communication of false, misleading, and pseudoscientific fraudulent claims that cause harm and drive demand for conversion practices
- Focus on practitioners’ intent to facilitate change or suppression of a person’s orientation, gender identity or gender expression on the basis of pseudoscientific claims
- Cover advertising of practices
- Cover referrals from practitioners, whether in informal or formal contexts
- Establish a range of criminal penalties
- Provide counselling and redress for survivors
- Provide investigative powers to a suitably advised body or commission, with scope for investigations to be initiated internally or as a response to complaints by third parties, not just by survivors, using strategies that prevent re-traumatisation
A copy of the letter is attached.
For a copy of this statement on the web, click here
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