The Victorian opposition has promised that they will not amend or roll-back the state’s “world-leading” law that bans gay conversion practices.
Liberal MP James Newbury, the opposition’s equality spokesperson, told The Age, that the party was committed to the law that was passed by the Victorian Parliament in February.
Newbury told The Age that “the Liberal Party will not be changing these laws, there are no ifs, no buts … I am giving an absolutely iron-clad guarantee.”
Opposition leader Matthew Guy, who was elected to the post last month, seemed to confirm it in a post on social media that referenced The Age report.
“Enough of the lies, here is the truth” Guy posted and shared an image with text that said: “The Liberals will never bring back conversion therapy. Read that again.”
Australian Christian Lobby Claimed To Possess ‘Written Statement’
The Age had previously reported that Guy’s predecessor, former opposition leader Michael O’Brien, had promised the Australian Christian Lobby that the party would roll-back the gay conversion practices ban if they managed to defeat the Daniel Andrews led Labor party at next year’s state elections.
The report had cited a speech by the Lobby’s managing director Martyn Illes, who at an event in Hobart on September 2, had said that the Liberals had given him a “written statement” promising to “roll-back” the legislation.
In the lead up to the passing of the legislation, the Lobby and other conservative Christian organisations and churches had targeted the Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill. They had claimed that the law threatened “to crush their basic human rights and freedoms, parental rights and religious liberties.”
Many conservative organisations are now lobbying the Scott Morrison government to include provisions in its proposed Religious Discrimination Bill to override state laws, including Victoria’s ban on conversion practices.
Newbury said that he had witnessed his gay friend being subjected to so-called conversion therapy for around 10 years.
“These laws are about a practise which supposes that you can choose being gay – you cannot choose to be gay, you are born gay. There is no praying that will change who you are,” Newbury told The Age.
Opposition Asked To Support Law Reforms
The Opposition must now vote to end discrimination against our community by supporting changes to outdated laws that currently allow religious institutions to fire, expel, or deny services to #LGBTQ+ people in Victoria.
— Equality Australia 🌈 (@EqualityAu) September 30, 2021
Equality Australia welcomed the Liberal Party’s assurances. “We’re pleased the Victorian Opposition has abandoned any attempt to water down Victoria’s Conversion Practices Law. Now it’s time to end discrimination against LGBTIQ people once and for all,” CEO Anna Brown said in a post on Twitter.
Equality Australia has called upon the opposition to support the Victorian government’s plans to reform laws, including the Equal Opportunity Act, to protect the LGBTQI+ community from discrimination.
The Daniel Andrews-led Labor government had announced last month that it planned to amend the laws to ban faith-based organisations and schools from sacking staff for being LGBTQI+.
‘’The Opposition must now vote to end discrimination against our community by supporting changes to outdated laws that currently allow religious institutions to fire, expel, or deny services to LGBTQI+ people in Victoria,” said Equality Australia.
The Victorian Legislative Council had passed The Change Or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill 2020 27-9 in February with Labor, Greens, Cross-bench and some Liberal MPs voting for the law.
The Bill was passed in the Lower House on December 10, 2020, with Liberal MPs abstaining from the vote.
The law that comes into effect next year says that anyone who subjects a person to conversion practices to change a persons sexual orientation or gender identity that causes serious injury can face up to 10 years in jail and/or a fine of up to $200,000. In case of injury, the offender, if convicted, can be punished with a maximum prison term of up to five years and/or a fine of up to $100,000.
The law covers conversion practices in all settings, including health and religious organisations. Taking a person outside Victoria to subject them to conversion practices won’t escape criminal liability either – if convicted of the offence, they face a jail term of up to two years. Advertising harmful conversion practices will invite criminal prosecution and fines of up to $10,000.