Tasmania may soon follow Queensland, ACT and Victoria and enact a law banning harmful sexual orientation or gender identity conversion practices. 

Premier Jeremy Rockliff on Monday told an estimates hearing that he supported the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute’s (TLRI) recommendations for law reforms to address so-called conversion therapy in Tasmania.

The TLRI in its report said that conversion practices were still occurring in the state and had recommended changes to the Mental Health Act, the Anti-Discrimination Act and the Criminal Code.

“The attorney and I are working together on these matters. I will be leading the change,” said Rockliff and referred to his conversations with survivors of conversion practices. 

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“I understand how much it has affected individuals to the detriment of their wellbeing, to put it mildly…It is clear to me as the minister for mental health and wellbeing that there needs to be change. I do take this very seriously,” said Rockliff. 

LGBTQI Advocates Welcome Premier’s Commitment

The draft legislation is likely to be placed before the Parliament after community consultation. LGBTQI advocates welcomed the Premier’s commitment to law reforms. 

“Recent studies have shown that 1 in 20 LGBTIQA+ Tasmanians have been through formal conversion practices, and that they are three to four times more likely to have PTSD and attempt suicide as a result,” Equality Tasmania spokesperson, Rodney Croome said in a statement. 

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“As the Minister for Mental Health, Mr Rockliff can speak to the mental health trauma conversion practices inflict and as Premier he can give the legislation the priority it requires.”

Religious Organisations Oppose Ban

The Australian Christian Lobby has opposed a ban on conversion practices and called the TLRI report a “massive outreach. Some religious organisations in their submissions to the TLRI had opposed the law reforms, with one church group openly claiming that they practiced conversion practices and “make no apologies” about it.

“Pastors who deal with religious matters rather than conversion pseudo-science, parents who have the best interests of their children in mind and health practitioners who work within existing professional guidelines have nothing to worry about,” said Croome. 

Victorian Parliament Passes Law Banning Gay Conversion Practices

 

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

 

Australian Medical Association Calls For A Ban On Gay Conversion Practices 

Last year, Australian Medical Association (AMA) called on the remaining jurisdictions to ban the discredited and controversial practice. “Conversion practices are a blatant example of the discrimination faced by LGBTIQA+ people in Australia and have no place in our society,” the AMA said in a statement.  



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