Conversion practices survivors and Amnetsy International have called on the governments of Western Australia and South Australia to ban harmful and unscientific conversion practices. 

They have pointed to Victoria’s “ground-breaking legislation” as an example of how states can “address conversion ideology and practices in a fair and equitable way.” 

“10% of LGBTQA+ Australians are at risk of conversion practices. For decades, conversion practices have been responsible for causing irreparable harm to LGBTQA+ people,” said Amnesty International on its campaign page

Before their respective elections, the Labor party which is in government in both WA and SA, had promised to enact legislation to ban conversion practices that attempt to change a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity

WA Premier Asked To  Honour Election Promise

Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan had last year promised the LGBTQI community that if reelected his government would enact a law to ban conversion practices. 

Amnesty International Australia, SOGICE Survivors and Ending Conversion Practices WA said they have requested a meeting with the WA Premier, Health Minister, and Attorney General, to discuss the issue. 

The WA government proposed to ban so-called conversion therapy by introducing legislation for a national code of conduct for unregulated health workers last year. The Bill was passed in the lower house and is currently before the legislative council. 

However, survivors and equality advocates have said that the legislation falls far short of banning conversion practices in religious and other informal settings. In a submission before the parliamentary inquiry into the Esther Foundation women’s rehabilitation centre, groups like Ending Conversion Practices WA and Youth Pride Network have said that the proposed WA legislation is not enough. 

Victoria’s World Leading Legislation To Ban Conversion Therapy

The organisations said that “legislation that only targets formal or health-based practices will do very little to address the harm”. 

In a letter to the Premier, the organisations pointed to Victorian legislation that was passed last year, which had criminal penalties and also provided for a Civil Response Scheme. 

While the law assigns criminal penalties to the most egregious of conversion practices, which are relatively rare, the Civil Scheme has been provided with powers for education, research, and investigation – working alongside affected communities,” the letter stated. 

“It is imperative that all governments in each state and territory emulate this world-leading model.”

Victoria, ACT and Queensland have enacted legislation to ban conversion practices. Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff assured the LGBTQI community that his government would follow other jurisdictions following recommendations of the Tasmanian Law Research Institute on law reforms to deal with conversion practices. According to South Australian Rainbow Advocacy Alliance, the Peter Malinauskas government is drafting a legislation to ban conversion practices. 

If you feel distressed reading the story, you can reach out to support services.

For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14

For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

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