Vic legal profession responds to scrapping of conversion therapy

By Jerome Doraisamy|05 February 2019

The Victorian Bar and the Law Institute of Victoria have both responded to a pledge by the Andrews government to introduce laws to denounce and prohibit LGBTI conversion practices.

The new laws, the state government noted in a statement, will end the “bigoted practice that has caused so much trauma to too many Victorians”.

“Conversion ‘therapy’ is any practice or treatment that seeks to change, suppress or eliminate an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity,” it proclaimed.

The Labor government noted it has also given in principle support to funding counselling and support services for survivors and will work on developing a comprehensive and tailored package of supports for survivors.

“Development of legislation to denounce and prohibit conversion practices will begin immediately, and will include extensive consultation with survivors, the LGBTI Taskforce and community and faith-based organisations,” it continued.

Premier Daniel Andrews said: “So-called ‘conversion therapy’ is not therapy at all. It is a harmful, prejudiced and discredited practice – and soon it will be against the law.”

“Conversion practices have caused untold trauma to too many Victorians – who were made to feel ashamed for who they were and who they loved. We’re banning these practices forever and for good,” added minister for equality Martin Foley.

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In response to the announcement, the Victorian Bar LGBTI Working Group expressed support for the proposed new laws.

“The LGBTI Working Group of the Victorian Bar applauds the intention of the state government to legislate to ban conversion therapy,” said Working Group chair Liz Bennett.

“The move is important to provide legal protections for LGBTI people in need of support, not judgment or condemnation.”

LIV president Stuart Webb noted that his member association also backed the proposal.

“The Law Institute of Victoria supports the proposal in principle and looks forward to seeing the detail of the legislation,” he said.

The announcement came as Premier Andrews attended the Midsumma Pride March in Melbourne, over the weekend, where he noted that “for far too long and for far too many Victorians, an evil practice has peddled in shame and stigma”.

“These activities – commonly referred to as ‘gay conversion therapy’ – claim to be able to change someone’s sexuality or gender identity. What they really are is a most personal form of torture, a cruel practice that perpetuates the idea that LGBTI people are in some way broken.”

But it’s not LGBTI people who need to change, Mr Andrews continued, but rather the state’s laws.

“We’ll drag these practices from the dark ages and into the brightest of lights. We’ll put an end to the suffering and help survivors to heal.”

Vic legal profession responds to scrapping of conversion therapy
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