The WA government announced today the move to criminalise practices that seek to change or suppress an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity – also known as conversion therapy.
Based on the ideology that LGBTIQA+ people have a disorder and require treatment, these harmful practices can include counselling, spiritual care and other psychological or medical interventions. The new laws will be drafted in consultation with both the LGBTIQA+ community and medical professionals.
“Not only are conversion and suppression practices ineffective but they undermine the fundamental value of personal dignity and have long term negative impacts on the health and mental health of LGBTIQA+ people in our community,” Premier Mark McGowan said.
The announcement follows a Parliamentary Inquiry into the Esther Foundation and unregulated private health facilities, uncovering extensive troubling practices and hearing accounts from over 70 witnesses.
“Evidence from survivors and advocacy organisations has demonstrated ongoing harm and trauma caused by these practices, including long term mental illness and suicidality,” said Attorney General John Quigley.
“Whilst our reforms will prohibit conversion and suppression practices, the ban will not interfere with health professionals’ ability to provide suitable therapy and counselling to LGBTIQA+ patients without fear of being prosecuted.
“It is appropriate that people are professionally supported when they explore their own concepts of self, others, and sexuality, and that they receive expert assessment, treatment and care when seeking to affirm gender through medical treatments such as hormone blocking therapies or surgical procedures.
WA will be the fourth Australian state or territory to enact legislation, with the Australian Capital Territory, Queensland and Victoria already banning conversion therapy and suppression practices, alongside New Zealand earlier in the year. Tasmania is expected to follow suit.