Conversion therapy banned in Victoria, Australia

Anyone guilty of carrying out the harmful practice could now face criminal charges and imprisonment.

A banner reading 'love is love' as Victoria bans conversion therapy.
Image: Pexels

As of Thursday, February 17, conversion therapy is illegal in the Australian state of Victoria. Parliament passed the law reform in 2021 after conducting research with survivors, but the new legislation officially comes into play today.

Victoria’s attorney-general, Jaclyn Symes, called the conversion therapy “total quackery,” and added that “these laws send the clear message that these disgraceful practices are not tolerated in Victoria.”

“We’ll always have the LGBT+ community’s back – now the law does too,” she continued.

Now within the state, anyone who attempts to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity could face criminal charges and imprisonment. The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission will also be allowed to accept and act on reports of conversion therapy in the jurisdiction.

Speaking on the landmark moment, Minister for Equality Martin Foley said: “For too long, these insidious practices have been allowed to ruin lives under the guise that LGBT+ people are ‘broken’ and need to be ‘fixed’. That stops today.”

The criminalisation of conversion therapy in Victoria comes just one day after New Zealand’s Government voted overwhelmingly in favour of a similar ban. The UK is expected to propose a new bill soon, following a six-week public consultation that started in October.

In response to the possible banning of conversion therapy in the UK, over 2,500 Christian ministers and pastoral staff signed a letter objecting to the legislative change.

The document addressed to Minister for Women and Equalities Liz Truss stated: “We see in these proposals a clear possibility that our duty as ministers, of proclaiming the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and calling people to find life in him, which includes living by his laws, will be criminalised.”

It continues by saying: “To urge and assist people to live in this way, far from being harmful, is a kind and merciful act, and of benefit to all.” 

In response to the letter, Jayne Ozanne, chair of the Ban Conversion Therapy Coalition, shared, “It is precisely because these Christian leaders think that what they do is both loving and acceptable that we need this legislation in the first place.”

Conversion therapy also remains legal on the island of Ireland but Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman, said in December 2021 that the Irish Government is committed to introducing a ban.

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