Protecting Canberrans from harmful sexuality and gender identity conversion practices

Released 13/08/2020

Following a commitment from the ACT Government in 2018, new legislation to ban sexuality and gender identity conversion practices has been introduced in the ACT Assembly today.

The Government wants to send a clear message that sexuality and gender identity conversion practices are not tolerated in our society.

Too often in Australia, we hear horrific stories of young people being coerced into coordinated and unregulated programs that seek to change their gender identity or sexuality.

These programs are often hidden from the broader community, and they can have significant consequences on the mental health of people involved.

The ACT Government is committed to ensuring all Canberrans are treated equally and can express themselves openly and safely.

The Bill will see the ACT Human Rights Commission handle complaints about conversion practices. Criminal offences will also be introduced for conversion practices directed at protected persons, and for the removal of a protected person from the ACT for the purpose of exposing them to conversion practices. Protected persons are defined to mean 'a child or a person who has impaired decision-making ability in relation to a matter relating to the person's health or welfare'.

The Bill does not intend to infringe a person's religion or impose criminal charges on medical professionals or psychiatrists providing legitimate services which relate to the free development and/or affirmation of one's sexuality or gender identity.

The legislation delivers on a commitment made in the Capital of Equality First Action Plan 2019-20 and builds on the government's pledge to make Canberra the most LGBTIQ+ welcoming and inclusive city in Australia.

Conversations about conversion practices may bring up strong feelings and questions. Be assured you are not alone, and that there are many services and support groups available to assist. Some options for advice and support include Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Westlund Counselling on 02 6257 2855.

Comments attributable to Minister for Justice Shane Rattenbury:

"Canberra is an inclusive city where everyone has a right to be their authentic selves. Conversion practices are based on a bogus ideology that LGBTIQ+ people are 'broken' or 'unnatural' and need to be fixed. This could not be further from the truth.

These practices are abhorrent, dangerous and outdated. They can lead to anxiety, depression, substance abuse - even suicide. Survivors say it can take a whole lifetime to undo the damage caused - if achieved at all.

Transphobia and homophobia in all their forms have no place in Canberra."

- Statement ends -

Section: Andrew Barr, MLA | Shane Rattenbury, MLA | Media Releases

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