Significant Victory on “Conversion Therapy” Bill

Queensland Parliamentary Committee Recommends Amendments to Conversion Therapy Ban

The Queensland Parliament’s Health, Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Committee has released the final report following its Inquiry into the Health Legislation Amendment Bill 2019.

In a significant victory, the Committee has recommended that the provision that would have introduced a ban on ill-defined “conversion therapy” –

“be amended to provide greater clarity and certainty as to what treatment and care provided by health service providers are to be covered and what services are not to be covered by the conversion therapy ban.”

The amendment validates the concerns raised by CSA and other school groups in our joint submission lodged earlier this year, see briefing here.

In a further acknowledgement of rushed nature of the Bill and vague terms involved the Committee has also recommended that –

“… the Minister informs the House, if the Bill is passed, what education and/or training or guidelines that he envisages would be provided to health service providers to assist them to understand what care and treatment provided to patients would be covered by the definition of conversion therapy…”.

While serious concerns still exist in relation to the Bill, the recognition of the deficiencies of Government legislation by a Government controlled committee is a testament to the work of a wide cross section of groups who raised concerns.

We are calling on the Government to respond to the Recommendations of the Committee and engage in extensive and meaningful consultation before proposing further amendments.

Implications for Victoria and the ACT

Similar concerns to those raised in relation to the Queensland Bill have been raised in a joint submission with Adventist Schools Australia to the Victorian Government consultation on a “conversion practices’ ban in that State.  See the full details of our submission here.  The Report from those consultations is due to be released this month.

The ACT Chief Minister also announced a proposed ban in the ACT, see briefing here.

With the acknowledgement of the fundamental weaknesses of the proposed Queensland Bill it is clearly appropriate for these jurisdictions to put their equally vague and ill-defined proposals on hold.

Proceeding with these bans given the recommendations of the Queensland Parliamentary Committee, and the New Zealand Parliamentary Committee before it, would be profoundly irresponsible.