Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews attended Melbourne’s Pride March over the weekend, where he announced the state government would criminalise LGBTI conversion practices.

The Australian-first ban follows an investigation into conversion practices by the Health Complaints Commissioner (HCC), which found that those subjected to it experienced long-term psychological harm and distress.

The HCC recommended that legislation be introduced to prohibit conversion practices in law, a recommendation taken on board by the state government.

“So called ‘conversion therapy’ is not therapy at all,” Andrews said at the march.

“It is harmful, prejudiced, and discredited practice – and soon it will be against the law.”

The state government also announced it would work on developing a comprehensive and tailored package of support for survivors.

Minister for Equality, Martin Foley, cited the harm caused to survivors of conversion practices as the primary reason behind the ban.

“Conversion practices have caused untold trauma to too many Victorians, who were made to feel ashamed for who they were and who they loved” he said.

“We’re banning these practices forever and for good.”

Co-leader of the Brave Network, Nathan Despott, welcomed the announcement and delivery of the HCC report.

“We are so pleased that the Victorian Government has chosen to adopt a broad response to this insidious movement that has operated undercover in Victoria’s religious communities for decades,” he said.

“The Victorian Government and Health Complaints Commissioner have listened to survivors and taken time to learn about the complexity involved with the ideology and operations of this harmful movement.”

Chief Executive of Equality Australia, Anna Brown, said the conversion movement’s activities have proven to be ineffective and harmful.

“Telling someone they are broken or sick because of who they are is profoundly psychologically damaging,” she said.

“Once again the [state] government is leading the nation in advancing LGBTI equality, and keeping our communities safe.

“On days like today it’s wonderful to know we live in a state where our Premier has our back, and we are celebrated for who we are.”

A survey of LGBTI Australians conducted late last year found that banning conversion therapy was a top political priority for members of the community.

A landmark report released in October detailing the extent of conversion therapy practices in Australia found that up to ten per cent of Australian LGBT people remained vulnerable to sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE).

Federally, a motion put forward by Greens Senator Janet Rice urging the government to advocate to states on banning conversion therapy practices in Australia passed the Senate in September.

The development of legislation to prohibit conversion practices will begin in Victoria immediately, and will reportedly include consultation with survivors, the state government’s LGBTI task force, and community organisations.

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