Joint Submission Lodged on ‘Conversion Practices’ Ban – ACT

CSA has collaborated with Adventist Schools Australia (ASA), the Australian Association of Christian Schools (AACS) and the Islamic School of Canberra to lodge a submission to the ACT Government’s proposed ban on ‘conversion practices’.

After “announcing” the ban on Facebook in November last year, see our Briefing for details, the ACT Government waited until the COVID-19 pandemic before commencing what can only be described as a clandestine “consultation” process.

Following the discovery that another educational group had been invited to make a submission around this issue, investigations uncovered that there was no public announcements or information available on this “consultation” being undertaken by the Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate on behalf on the ACT Government.  After pushing to ascertain the nature and timing of the “consultation” CSA was informed that –

“Due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on public engagements, in this instance we have directly engaged a cross section of stakeholders from across the education, disability, religious, health, LGBTIQ+ and legal sectors to seek their views on the proposed prohibition, in lieu of the standard public consultation process. All stakeholders have been provided with the same information provided in our earlier email.

This process began on 4 June and closes on 29 June.”

Discussions with other faith based organisation in the ACT could not identify any group that had been invited to make a submission, this despite the clear statements last year that religious bodies were being targeted by the proposals.

Underpinning the “consultation” was a very brief, and very broad, “Factsheet” containing little in the way of evidence, but a lot in the way of rhetoric, and suggesting a wide range of possible legislative options.

After raising a number of concerns about the process and inadequate “evidence” base the submission concludes with the following recommendations –

  1. Before a proper decision can be made, or even discussion commence, the term ‘conversion practices’ 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, criminal penalties apply.
  3. Legislative responses to ‘conversion practices’ must themselves be based on sound evidence and research.
  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.

A full copy of the submission is available below.

EDIT: The Australian has run an extensive story, COVID-19 blamed for transgender law stealth, which provides a lot of details and background on this issue.

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