New South Wales government has announced its intention to fast-track the legislation banning gay conversion practices, in a surprising move following recent delays caused by a religious lobby group.
Queensland, the ACT, and Victoria have already introduced laws prohibiting conversion practices, making NSW’s delay a point of contention. Previously, the government had planned to introduce the bill in 2024, but it will now be presented to parliament by the end of this year.
The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) claimed credit for influencing the delay, citing their “strong pushback” as a factor. The ACL’s efforts included a phone campaign where they made over 8,000 calls to MPs expressing their concerns.
However, this move has sparked backlash from groups representing conversion practice survivors, who wrote to Attorney-General Michael Daley, expressing their concerns about ACL’s influence on the delay. The heads of these survivor groups are particularly troubled by the ACL’s involvement in postponing vital reforms.
The government’s decision to accelerate the legislation aligns with bipartisan support, with both major parties pledging to ban conversion therapies. Independent MP Alex Greenwich introduced LGBTQ+ bills in August, including a ban on conversion practices. The government, under the Minns administration, is developing its legislation while consulting with various stakeholders. The goal is to have the bill ready for parliament by the end of the year.
While the ACL expressed support for banning “coercive practices,” they believe individuals should still be allowed to seek prayers to change their sexuality. Conversion practices have faced criticism for their harmful effects, with survivors like Tim Pocock emphasizing the urgency of the reforms. Pocock underwent hypnotherapy in 2011 to rid himself of “homoerotic tendencies” and spoke of the psychological damage such practices can inflict.
The move to accelerate the ban on gay conversion practices in New South Wales is seen as a critical step towards protecting LGBTQ+ individuals from potential harm and psychological trauma. While challenges remain in crafting comprehensive legislation, it marks progress in the ongoing fight against conversion therapies in Australia.