The Tasmanian Law Reform Institute is currently seeking to reform Tasmania’s laws around gay conversion therapy. These reforms will seek to ban sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) conversion practices.
Tasmania has an interesting history with LGBTQI+ rights. After relentless campaigning from gay rights activists, Tasmania was the last state in Australian to decriminalise gay relationships in 1997.
Then in 2015, 64 percent of Tasmanians voted in favour of legalising gay marriage. In a single generation, Tasmania has gone from the worst state in Australia for gay rights to one of the best, earning the title of the Rainbow Isle. But despite how far our southernmost state has come, Tasmania is yet to protect our LGBTQI+ community from barbaric conversion practices.
Whilst gay conversion practices have long been recognised to be damaging to members of the LGBTQI+ community, they are still being performed and advertised in our own backyard.
Matty Wright from Equality Tasmania said: “At their core, conversion practices assume LGBTQI+ Australians are broken and can be fixed.
“Conversion practices cause deep trauma to those caught up in them. They are also occurring more widely and more often than many Australians assume.”Matty Wright
In February of this year, Victoria was the first Australian State to ban gay conversion practices with The Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill. This bill made it illegal to try to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, with penalties of up to 10 years’ jail or $10,000 in fines. Additionally, this bill allows the Human Rights Commission to actively investigate conversion practices and amended the Family Violence Protection Act to define them as a form of domestic violence.
Victoria’s stance against these conversion therapies highlights the very real need to reform these laws nationwide.
Equality Tasmania works with survivors of conversion therapies from all walks of life.“Survivors of conversion therapies belong to a broad range of ages, from young to older, with most being exposed to conversion practices in the last two years” Matty said
These damaging practices are still happening in communities right across Australia. Recent estimates are that conversion practices are perpetrated on 5 to 10% of LGBTIQ+ peopleMatty Wright
Conversion therapy is still a legal practice on the Rainbow Isle, and survivors continue to reach out to organisations like Equality Tasmania to share their stories and begin the healing process.
However, it is not just survivors of conversion therapies who need these practices outlawed – it is all queer and trans people.
Every day that these conversion therapies continue to be promoted, is another day that someone in Tasmania is seeing their body or identity as disordered.
And that needs to change.