Protestors in Australia have gathered on the steps of Victoria’s parliament to rally against the government’s bill to ban conversion therapy.
The Victorian government introduced legislation to outlaw conversion therapy in November 2020. The bill, approved by the lower house on 10 December, 2020, will impose fines of close to $10,000 or up to 10 years in jail. It now just needs to be passed in the council before it can become law.
However, apparent supporters of conversion therapy have been protesting outside Victoria’s parliament, saying the new bill would “restrict parents’ rights”.
The protestors held up a variety of signs including some saying “Hey Dan, hands off my patients”, “responsible parenting is not a crime” and “prayers are not crimes”.
Victoria MP doesn’t want conversion therapy ban.
Liberal Democrats MP David Limbrick spoke before the crowds. He said: “What the bill does is effectively allow the government to interfere in the private, consensual relations of adults.”
The Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill 2020 will empower the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission to investigate reports of conversion practices. The legislation will persecute those who seek to use change and suppression tactics against LGBT+ individuals.
It will not directly impact how a parent chooses to raise their LGBT+ child.
The Australian Christian Lobby also paid for a double-page advertisement in the Herald Sun against the bill.
The ad included a letter to Daniel Andrews, premier of Victoria, calling for the bill to be scrapped. The group argued that the ban on conversion therapy would criminalise parents, pastors and doctors.
The Australian Christian Lobby – A CHARITY WHO PAYS NO TAX – has enough money to buy a double page spread in Murdoch's Herald Sun to protest Victoria's Conversion Therapy Laws.#Auspol pic.twitter.com/yGKcj29D1a
— 💧 Sleeping Giants Oz 📣 (@slpng_giants_oz) January 30, 2021
Protests continued throughout the weekend. On 1 February, ABC state political reporter Bridget Rollason shared a photo of dozens of people gathered, holding similar signs to those seen the previous day.
— Bridget Rollason (@bridgerollo) February 1, 2021
Nathan Despott, the co-founder of Brave Network which supports Australia’s LGBT+ community, told 7NEWS Australia that the change and suppression tactics used in conversion therapy cause “extreme harm” to survivors. He said: “It can take years to recover.
“There are horrendous rates of suicidality and unemployment. This bill comes at the end of years of consultation with survivors.
“It’s practically written in the blood of survivors.”
He called on Victorians to “ask ourselves” what they think about situations that occur in religious institutions where serious injury is caused.