“Conversion Therapy” ban being proposed for South Australia

Media reports today suggest that the South Australian Opposition “is drafting legislation to outlaw the controversial practice of LGBTIQ conversion therapy that seeks to change, alter or supress (sic) a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity through counselling or surgery”.

According to the article “[r]eligious groups and medical practitioners in South Australia could face up to eight years in prison” under the proposals with “[h]igher penalties would be set for those who perform conversion therapy on children or vulnerable adults, but gender transition services for people who identify as transgender would be exempt”. 

While Opposition private member bills does not usually become law, the reports today indicate that the proposal “has in-principle support from the Greens, while Attorney-General Vickie Chapman says she has already considered how a ban could operate as a criminal offence“.

Once again the proposal is based on the discredited 2018 Human Rights Law Centre report which claimed that “up to 10 per cent of LGBTIQ Australians are still vulnerable to “harmful” conversion therapy practices” which also claimed that “conversion practices and ideologies are being mainstreamed within particular Christian churches,”  and stated that “Ex-gay and ex-trans ideology, counselling and pastoral activities are still being promoted in the messages and teachings of many churches, mosques and synagogues, through print and digital media and through some Christian radio programmes.”

The support from the Attorney-General coming despite her acknowledgement that  “[t]his practice has not yet been identified as operating in South Australia“, the “yet” suggesting a clear, self-fulfilling agenda.

The proposal follows a recent clandestine “consultation” process conducted on a ban in the ACT and the rejection of similar legislation in Queensland.

As was the case with the proposals in Victoria, Queensland and the ACT, proponents make wild claims that “Conversion activities can constitute torture …” alluding the barbaric practices of some mainstream medical facilities last century yet defined “conversion therapy” so broadly as to include the expression of a historical Christian sexual ethic and biologically based approach to sex.

We will be writing to the South Australian Attorney-General indicating that –

  1. Before any proper discussion can commence, the term ‘conversion therapy’ must be more clearly and precisely defined.
  2. Informed, transparent and public consultation must precede any proposal for legislation, including clarity as to whom, and when, any criminal penalties apply.
  3. Legislative responses to ‘conversion therapy’ must be based on sound evidence and research, not merely an activist publication.
  4. Genuine questioning, support and advice on matters relating to a person’s gender and sexuality, by health professionals, educators, religious bodies and parents must be safeguarded under any proposal.
  5. Guarantees must be provided about ongoing rights of religious organisations and parents to continue teaching in accordance with their beliefs about gender and sexuality.