gay conversion therapy
2 min read

The banning of gay conversion therapy is a step closer in Australia’s Capital city after legislation was presented to the Australian Capital Territory’s parliament today.

After more than two years the ACT, with Canberra as its city, has finally put intention into practice, proposing a law that will mean people would face fines of up to $24,000 and 12 months’ imprisonment for performing a “sexuality or gender identity conversion therapy” on a child or individual with an impaired decision-making ability.

The law would allow for people to be prosecuted even if the individual or their parent or guardian consented to the practice and it also prohibits anyone taking a child or vulnerable person outside of the ACT for the purpose of conversion therapy.


The bill presented on Thursday defined it as a treatment or practice which was aimed at changing a person’s sexuality or gender identity.

However, it does not cover practices related to supporting a person who is undergoing or considering a gender transition.

On Thursday, Mr Barr said the legislation was not about banning religious expression but about protecting vulnerable people from harm.

“Religious individuals and institutions will still be able to teach their faith and provide guidance as to how to abide by religious tenets,” Mr Barr said.

“They will only be prohibited from carrying out those practices directly targeted at changing an individual’s sexuality or gender identity.”

The ACT Human Rights Commission would assess complaints about conversion practices, under the government’s legislation.

“The ACT government wants to send a clear message that sexuality and gender identity conversion practices are not tolerated in our society,” Mr Barr said.

“Too often in Australia, we hear horrific stories of young people being coerced into co-ordinated and unregulated programs that seek to change their gender identity or sexuality.”

Justice Minister Shane Rattenbury, who co-sponsored the bill presented on Thursday, said the practice was abhorrent, dangerous and outdated.

“Canberra is an inclusive city where everyone has a right to be their authentic selves. Conversion practices are based on a bogus ideology that LGBTIQ+ people are ‘broken’ or ‘unnatural’ and need to be fixed. This could not be further from the truth,” he said.

“They can lead to anxiety, depression, substance abuse, even suicide. Survivors say it can take a whole lifetime to undo the damage caused – if achieved at all.

“Transphobia and homophobia in all their forms have no place in Canberra.”

Last Updated on Aug 13, 2020

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