Australia’s most densely populated territory is making history by becoming the country’s first state to prohibit harmful and controversial LGBTI conversion practices.
The announcement was made by Victorian premier Daniel Andrews during the annual Midsumma Pride in St. Kilda that took place over the weekend.
Addressing the crowd in attendance, Mr Andrews stated that “so-called ‘conversion therapy’ is not therapy at all. It is a harmful, prejudiced and discredited practice and soon it will be against the law.”
The ban is a first for Australia and follows an extensive investigation into conversion practices by the Health Complaints Commissioner (HCC). Among the findings of the investigations are that those subjected to it experienced long-term psychological harm and distress.
In a statement posted on his website, Mr Andrews explains that the amendment to the law was made in the hopes of ending this “bigoted practice that has caused so much trauma to too many Victorians”.
According to the statement, conversion therapy is “any practice or treatment that seeks to change, suppress or eliminate an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity”.
The press release further promises that the development of legislation to denounce and prohibit conversion practices “will begin immediately”. In addition, as part of the roll-out, extensive consultation with survivors, the LGBTI Taskforce and community, as well as faith-based organisations will be conducted on an ongoing basis.
The ban is the latest move by the Australian government to look after the rights of its LGBTI citizens. Since being elected in 2014, it has invested more than $60 million in related initiatives—including delivering adoption equality legislation, and establishing Victoria’s first Gender and Sexuality Commissioner.