Andrews Government’s pledge to combat ‘gay conversion therapy’ will provide better outcomes for survivors

Andrews Government’s pledge to combat ‘gay conversion therapy’ will provide better outcomes for survivors

Australia’s first national LGBTQI+ legal advocacy and campaigning organisation Equality Australia, welcomed today’s pledge by the Andrews Government to provide in principle support to funding counselling and support services for survivors of ‘gay conversion therapy’ and establish an expert working group to draft legislation to prohibit conversion therapy.

Anna Brown, CEO of Equality Australia and co-author of the landmark Preventing Harm, Promoting Justice report released in 2018, said, “The Andrews Government has recognised the lasting harm from this insidious practice and taken positive steps to help survivors. The conversion movement’s activities are proven to be ineffective and harmful. Telling someone they are broken or sick because of who they are is profoundly psychologically damaging.”

“We’re very pleased to see the Government respond to key recommendations in our report, and particularly the need for careful consideration of specific legislation to target these damaging practices."

“Once again the Andrews Government is leading the nation advancing LGBTIQ equality and keeping our communities safe. On days like today it’s wonderful to know we live in a State where our Premier has our back, and we are celebrated for who we are," said Ms Brown.

Nathan Despott, Co-Leader of Brave Network, a support and advocacy group for LGBTIQA+ people welcomed the announcement and the delivery of the Health Complaints Commissioner report.

“We are so pleased that the Victorian Government has chosen to adopt a broad response to this insidious movement that has operated undercover in Victoria's religious communities for decades. The Victorian Government and Health Complaints Commissioner have listened to survivors and taken time to learn about the complexity involved with the ideology and operations of this harmful movement,” said Mr Despott.

Dr Tim Jones, senior lecturer in history at La Trobe University and co-author of the Preventing Harm Promoting Justice Report said:

“Our research has shown that LGBT conversion therapy remains a real problem in Australian religious communities. Today is an important and welcome acknowledgement by the Victorian Government of the deep and profound harms experienced by LGBT people of faith and a commitment to take action,”

Experts and survivors all emphasised the importance of a holistic approach to tackling the issue.

“Stronger laws and support for survivors are incredibly welcome steps but we also need education and research about the harm caused by the cultural ideas and messaging prevalent within faith communities, to drive change from within. We recommend a multi-faceted approach implemented in partnership with health professionals, religious institutions and communities,” added Dr Jones.

Read: Preventing Harm, Promoting Justice: Responding to LGBT conversion therapy in Australia co-authored by Anna Brown, when she was director of legal advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre, La Trobe University, and Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria.

MEDIA CONTACT: Michelle Bennett, Media Director, Equality Australia: 0419 100 519