The Victorian government has successfully passed its so-called Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill following a 12-hour sitting on Thursday.
The bill, which passed without any amendments, 29 votes to nine, makes it illegal to try and change a person’s gender identity or sexual orientation and includes a lengthy jail time and heavy fines for those found guilty.
Individuals found to have engaged in forbidden practices, such as counselling and offering prayer, could face up to 10 years in prison or up-to $10,000 in fines.
In his article titled, Ten Problems with Victoria’s Conversion Therapy Bill, Mark Powell noted at least ten major areas of concern with the new legislation.
The ten points are:
- Someone can be prosecuted even if the person involved had consented to change their sexual identity or behaviour.
- A forbidden practice includes–but is not limited to– counselling or even offering prayer.
- The person making the allegation can remain completely anonymous, thus preventing the accused any right to know who is making the complaint.
- There is a complete re-definition of as to what now qualifies as domestic violence.
- Harassment is now even distributing literature which promotes that a person can change.
- If a person is found guilty then the Commission can send a person off for re-education.
- Following on from this, persons who have been found guilty will be under measures to enforce that they ‘comply with the Act.’
- Those found guilty will be put on a public register to be ‘named-and-shamed.’
- Traditional Christian doctrine is now the subject of criminal prosecution.
- Following on from this, what would have only a short while ago been considered a virtue, a report from The Human Rights Law Centre has denounced any such ‘conversion practice’ which includes encouraging someone to remain sexually celibate.
If that’s not bad enough, the bill effectively recognises no borders. Anyone found guilty of engaging with a Victorian, either within or outside of Victoria, for such purposes will potentially be engaging in a criminal act.
The bill was passed despite drawing vocal opposition from hundreds of Victoria’s senior religious leaders and more than 30 religious organisations.
In an open letter to the state government, the religious groups described the bill as an “unprecedented attack on religious freedom,” which is at odds with the government’s claim to support the rights and freedoms of all Victorians.
The Australian Christian Lobby called the legislation “the most dangerous and draconian bill” the nation has ever seen, warning that it would criminalise many common religious practices.
- Regulate the subject matter of prayers, according to Section 5(3);
- Make some consensual prayers into criminal acts, if they pertain to a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity;
- Criminalise voluntary faith-based support groups for people who want to live out their sexual orientation or gender identity consistent with their faith;
- Make certain conversations about faith-based sexual ethics illegal, as confirmed in the Explanatory Memorandum;
- Make all faith-based teaching or discussion on issues of sexual orientation or gender identity legally fraught;
- Force parents to affirm and encourage a child’s felt gender identity at any given time, regardless of circumstances, and permit gender transition medical therapies.
In other words, if you have unwanted sexual desires or gender identity issues, it’ll now be illegal for anyone to help you.
The government has effectively told LGBTQ people, if you’re gay or trans and you want to change, you’re on your own. No one is permitted to help you. Apostasy will not be tolerated. LGBTQ is now a life sentence.