Human rights lawyers applaud Victorian MPs for outlawing Gay Conversion Therapy
Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) congratulates Victorian Members of Parliament who voted to secure the passage of the Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill 2020 (VIC).
ALHR’s LGBTI Rights Subcommittee Chair, Georgia Burke said, “ALHR welcomes this important legislation which protects vulnerable members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and gender diverse community from harmful suppression practices. This legislation 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’s Chair of Public Interest Litigation, Nicholas Stewart said, “These laws permit the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC) to support survivors and address the harm they have endured. The laws empower VEOHRC to consider and respond to reports of change or suppression practices from any person, as well as launch investigations where there is evidence of serious or systemic change or suppression practices. Importantly, responses to reports will be survivor-led and trauma-informed, focusing on education and facilitation processes. This will ensure that any response meets the needs and wishes of the affected person.”
Ms Burke continued, “ALHR strongly 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, there is no absolute right under international human rights law 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.”
“The reform had the backing of international human rights and medical experts and is in accordance with Australia’s international legal obligations. Conversion therapy practises are inherently degrading and violate the 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 LGBT people has, in some cases, caused or contributed to depression, anxiety, and suicidality.
“ALHR commends the Victorian Government for this important law protecting LGBT Victorians and calls on Western Australia, South Australia, Northern Territory and New South Wales to do the same.”
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Read ALHR’s letter to members of the Victorian Legislative Council in support of the Bill here