NSW Conversion Therapy
The NSW Government is planning to introduce legislation banning “LGBTQ+ conversion practices”. A confidential consultation paper, released in August, proposes a model based on the legislation in Victoria, which has severely impacted freedom of speech and religion in that State.
Freedom for Faith is working with most Christian denominations, as well as the heads of other major faiths, to develop comprehensive responses to the proposals in the consultation paper.
However, the most important path to preventing these proposals is to speak to NSW Labor MPs and call on them to hold to their election commitments, reject the Department’s proposal, and take the time to consult properly.
We have until October to convince our politicians to reject this proposal.
Why the rush?
The Government has told us that they plan to bring legislation in November, which is incredibly fast for such complex legislation.
Faith leaders (and other stake holders) have been given only four weeks to respond to the consultation paper, with submissions due August 25th. In September, the Department will finalise their recommendations (which will not be made public) and send them to the Government in early October, so that legislation can written for November.
If these disastrous proposals are tabled as a bill, it will be much harder to fix the problems. We have until October to convince the Government to hold to their election commitments, reject the Department’s proposal, and take the time to consult properly.
What is in the proposal paper?
The proposal works from a definition of “conversion practices” that is based on, and almost exactly the same as, that of Victoria.
Like the Victorian legislation, the proposal combines the ideas of “conversion practices” with the broader and more vague concept of “suppression”. No clear definition is given of what “suppression” is, however examples in the paper include living celibately.
The proposal explicitly states that prayer and preaching would be illegal if they were considered to have the “primary purpose” of change or suppression.
The proposal also recommends that any “conversion” or “suppression” practice is automatically illegal whether or not it has been consented to.
What has Labor Promised?
In the lead-up to the 2023 election, Labor made specific commitments to faith communities. At a faith leader’s forum in (Feb 27, Parramatta), Chris Minns recognised that this is an issue that is very complex legally, and “needs to be handled carefully”, promising:
“we are going to pursue our own bill in relation to this. We are not just going to transpose Victorian legislation and implement it into NSW… we’ve heard a critique of the Victorian legislation from the AMA, who believed that the definition was too broad”
“… the teachings of a religious leader will not be banned. Expressing a religious belief through sermon will not be banned. And an individual of their own consent seeking guidance through prayer will not be banned either.”
Labor candidates also answered questions at candidate forums across the State, Many giving a prepared answer:
“… Neither the Greenwich Bill or the Victorian model will be the starting point for our legislation. Any legislation to ban conversion therapy or suppression practises must not outlaw individuals voluntarily seeking out medical health, allied health or other advice and assistance regarding their personal circumstances.”
What can I do?
The most important thing we can do to prevent these proposals is to convince Labor to hold to their election commitments, reject the Department’s proposal, and take the time to consult properly.
Within the week, Freedom for Faith will be releasing resources to help you meet with, write to and call your local MP and MLCs.
Things are moving very fast, and a successful campaign will need excellent communication and coordination.
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