The state of Queensland will ban gay conversion therapy, Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles has announced.
Miles said gay conversion therapy, which seeks to alter a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, would be banned as part of the Health and Other Legislation Amendments Bill (No. 2) 2019, which has been introduced to State Parliament.
Practitioners of the discredited therapy will face fines and up to 12 months’ imprisonment, said Miles, while those who perform conversion therapy on children and other vulnerable people will face up to 18 months in jail.
“Practices that try to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation or their gender identity have always been immoral and unethical—now they will be illegal,” said Miles.
“I strongly oppose any suggestion that being LGBTIQ is a disorder that requires medical treatment.
“This is an appalling practice that has no place in modern society, let alone Queensland’s health system.
“It does nothing but cause harm and devastation to vulnerable members of the community who need and deserve our support and respect,” he said.
The Queensland Council for LGBTI Health (formerly the Queensland AIDS Council) has welcomed the announcement.
“Conversion therapy is a dangerous and discredited practice that is opposed by all Australian health authorities,” said Peter Black, president of Queensland Council for LGBTI Health.
“This ban sends a clear message to Queenslanders that conversion therapy is harmful in all contexts and that people should be nurtured and protected, so they can live and love without fear of abuse, ridicule or exclusion,” he said.
The ban covers all health professionals—registered or otherwise—as well as organisations that provide health services.
Queensland Health will fund activities to support the legislation, including support services for survivors of conversion therapy.
The announcement is the latest positive development for LGBTIQ people in Queensland, which has transformed since the late 20th Century, when it was one of Australia’s most prejudiced and discriminatory places for LGBTIQ people.
Male homosexuality was decriminalised in Queensland in 1991, while In 2012, the state allowed civil unions for same-sex couples with the option of an official ceremony.
In 2016, the age of consent was equalised to 16 years for all sexual acts, and in the the following year, the state abolished the ‘gay panic defence’.
Last year, the government removed a law that forced married transgender people to divorce if they sought legal recognition of their gender, while gay men were given the right to have historic gay sex convictions expunged.
The Queensland Government, led by Labor premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, is currently reviewing the rights of transgender people, including the possibility of allowing people to legally change gender without sex reassignment surgery.