Legislation to ban “conversion practices” introduced in Victoria

1 December 2020

Following our recent Briefing in anticipation of legislation being tabled, the Victorian Attorney-General introduced the Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill 2020 (VIC) into Parliament last week.

It is a highly complex bit of legislation, but some aspects are very clear:

The Bill is clearly ideologically driven, the objects (section 3) stating:

(2) In enacting this Act, it is the intention of the Parliament —

              (a)  to denounce and give statutory recognition to the serious harm caused by change or suppression practices; and
              (b)  to affirm that a person's sexual orientation or gender identity is not broken and in need of fixing; and
              (c)  to affirm that no sexual orientation or gender identity constitutes a disorder, disease, illness, deficiency or shortcoming; and
              (d)  to affirm that change or suppression practices are deceptive and harmful both to the person subject to the change or suppression practices and to the community as a whole.

The definition of change or suppression practice, section 5, is the broadest in the country, and possibly the world, prohibiting practices “for the purpose of:

(i) changing or suppressing the sexual orientation or gender identity of the person; or
(ii) inducing the person to change or suppress their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

So the practice itself does not need to have the purpose of changing or suppressing , it can simply be ‘inducing’ a person to themselves change or suppress.  Promotion of abstinence to those who may be same sex attracted would seem to fall squarely within this definition.

The consent of the person involved is irrelevant for the definition of change or suppression practice – those struggling with same sex attraction and seeking help to not act on their desires will have no avenue for assistance.

The definition of change or suppression practice explicitly targets people of faith, explicitly including with the definition of change or suppression practice - “carrying out a religious practice, including but not limited to, a prayer based practice, a deliverance practice or an exorcism”.  Indeed it is noted in the Explanatory Memorandum, which can be used by Courts in interpreting the legislation, that the definition is (emphasis added) –

“intended to capture a broad range of conduct, including, informal practices, such as conversations with a community leader that encourage change or suppression of sexual orientation or gender identity, and more formal practices, such as behaviour change programs and residential camps.”

Simply having a conversation as a ‘community leader’ with somebody is intended to be impacted by this legislation.

Attorney-General Jill Hennessy made the intention of the Victorian Government very clear that “These views won’t be tolerated in Victoria …" arguing that “"Our government is very firmly of the view that gay, lesbian and trans people, they don't need to be fixed, they are perfect the way they are".

We have prepared for members a detailed Briefing Paper on the Bill, which also makes changes to definitions in the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (VIC).

View Briefing Paper

We are also asking schools to encourage your school community to actively respond to this legislation. 

There is a dedicated campaign page on the ValuEd Voices website which allows school community members simply and easily send an email to all the Legislative Council members in their region, their local Opposition/Independent Legislative Assembly member, as well as the Premier and Opposition Leader.

We are also continuing over Christmas/New Year the social media campaign through the ValuEd Voices Facebook page and on Instagram.  Please encourage your school community to follow these accounts and like and share the posts!

 

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