Human rights lawyers applaud bipartisan backing for outlawing Gay Conversion Therapy in NSW

February 17, 2023

Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) has commended Premier Dominic Perrottet and Opposition Leader Chris Minns for publicly committing their parties support for measures to ban conversion therapy in New South Wales, irrespective of who wins government at the state election in March. 

ALHR’s LGBTIQA+ Rights Committee Chair, Georgia Burke said, “ALHR welcomes this bipartisan position, which paves the way for legislation that protects vulnerable members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and gender diverse community from incredibly harmful suppression practices. Legislation ending conversion therapy makes it clear that an individual’s sexual orientation and gender identity is not something that is “broken” and therefore not something that needs to be ‘fixed’.”

ALHR Vice President, Nicholas Stewart said, “NSW is lagging behind other states in this key area of human rights law reform. Victoria, Queensland and the ACT have each passed legislation providing these protections to the LGBTIQA+ community. South Australia and Tasmania have reform discussions underway. In circumstances where Sydney is about to host World Pride, including its Human Rights Conference, this announcement could not come soon enough.”

Ms Burke continued, “ALHR supports laws that uphold the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief in a manner that is consistent with international human rights law standards.  However, international law is clear: there is no absolute right to manifest or act upon one’s religious belief in a way that impacts upon others.  Religious freedom does not mean freedom to visit harm upon others in the name of one’s own religion.”

Burke continued, “Conversion therapy practices are inherently degrading and violate Australia’s international obligations to respect, protect and fulfill everyone’s human rights to non-discrimination, bodily autonomy, the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, and free expression of one’s sexual orientation and gender identity. When conducted forcibly, they also represent a breach to the prohibition of torture and inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment. The United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Méndez, said (in 2016) that, in some instances, conversion therapy can “lead to severe and life-long physical and mental pain and suffering and can amount to torture and ill-treatment.” Further, the American Psychological Association has determined that, ‘conversion’ or ‘reparative therapy’ for LGBTIQ people has, in some cases, caused or contributed to depression, anxiety, and suicidality.”

Stewart concluded, “Independent MP Alex Greenwich has already drafted a bill for debate. ALHR looks forward to seeing that bill introduced as a priority to the new parliament.”

To arrange an interview or for more information, contact: Matt Mitchell 0431 980 365