Tasmania’s Proposed Bill To Ban Gay Conversion Practices Panned

Tasmania’s Proposed Bill To Ban Gay Conversion Practices Panned
Image: Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff (left) and Equality Tasmania's Rodney Croome.

Tasmanian government released a draft bill to ban conversion practices, but LGBTQI advocates say if passed the law would allow the harmful practice to continue to be practised in the state. 

Earlier this year, Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff committed to bringing in a law to ban anti-gay conversion practices before the end of the term of his government in June 2025. This followed a recommendation last year by the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute. 

LGBTQI advocates slammed the new draft bill as “disappointing” and “full of loopholes”. 

“This is the kind of bill an anti-LGBTIQA+ group like the Australian Christian Lobby would draft,” Rodney Croome of Equality Tasmania said in a statement. “This bill is a far cry from the promise Premier Jeremy Rockliff made to implement the gold-standard recommendations of the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute.”

‘Bill Doesn’t Go Far Enough’

In August 2020, Queensland became the first jurisdiction in Australia in August 2020 to ban gay conversion practices followed by ACT. In February 2021, Victoria banned so-called conversion therapy. The Victorian law, which covered both health and religious settings, was welcomed by survivors as a “world-leading legislation”. Tasmania and NSW have both committed to outlaw conversion practices. 

According to Croome, the draft bill “doesn’t go far enough and doesn’t meet the standards recommended by the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute.” 

“The bill will allow conversion practices to continue, both in health and religious settings, under the guise of ill-defined terms like ‘support’, ‘assistance’, ‘care’ and ‘guidance’.It will also allow conversion practices if there is ‘consent’, despite the fact that it is impossible to consent to a ‘treatment’ that doesn’t work for a ‘condition’ that doesn’t exist,” said Croome. 

‘Bill Is Full Of Loopholes’

Croome said that unlike other state’s which have banned conversion practices, there are no civil penalties in the Tasmanian Bill, which means that offenders are unlikely to be held to account. 

“These are the loopholes conversion practitioners will crawl through so they can continue to inflict their cruel and discredited ‘therapies’. We are also disappointed this won’t be a stand-alone act with a preamble against conversion practices like in the other states where legislation has sent a stronger message.”

“Another big concern is that there’s no mention of the kind of education programs undertaken in other states that are necessary to ensure the legislation actually works on the ground. This is the kind of bill that you would draft if you wanted to appear to ban conversion practices without actually banning them,” said Croome. 

Equality Tasmania said it conducted in-depth discussions with survivor advocates and there was only one conclusion – the draft bill in its current form was “irredeemable” and should be scrapped. 

“It is really disappointing that after so much heart-felt advocacy by survivors, so much ground-breaking research and so many well-developed recommendations from the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute, the Government has come up with such useless legislation,” said Croome. 

The Tasmanian government’s public consultation on the bill closes on February 16. “We will use the current consultation period to urge the Government to scrap this bill, listen to the experts and the survivors, and draft something that will do the job,” added Croome.

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