4 November 2019

Gay conversion therapy to be banned in the ACT

| Ian Bushnell
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The ACT is LGBTIQ+ friendly

The Government’s action plan aims to make Canberra the most LGBTIQ+ welcoming and inclusive city in Australia. Photo: File.

So-called gay conversion therapy will be banned in the ACT by the end of 2020 under a new Government plan to improve the lives of LGBTIQ+ Canberrans.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the Government will introduce legislation to prohibit the unfounded practice of trying to change an individual’s sexual orientation from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual using psychological or spiritual interventions.

Mr Barr said it was time to put an end to it.

“LGBT Canberrans are not sick or unnatural and we do not need to be ‘changed’, ‘cured’, ‘converted’, ‘healed’ or whatever term is used [to describe] practitioners’ harmful and outdated ‘conversion therapy'”, Mr Barr said.

He said legislation would be backed up by non-legislative measures aimed at education, prevention and support.

Gay conversion therapy does not have any scientific or medical support, can be harmful and other jurisdictions in the world have outlawed it.

Called Capital of Equality, First Action Plan 2019 and 2020, the new Government strategy includes a range of initiatives to counter discrimination, provide supports and services, raise awareness and educate the community.

It aims to make Canberra the most LGBTIQ+ welcoming and inclusive city in Australia.

The plan says the Government will amend the Births Deaths and Marriage Registration Act 1997 to make it easier to change birth registration and birth certificates for trans and gender diverse people, particularly young people.

This will create a single form for changing one’s sex and name.

The Government will work with intersex people, human rights organisations and healthcare professionals on how the prohibition of deferrable medical interventions on intersex people could operate in Canberra.

It will move to support young people more by funding programs in schools including continuing the Safe and Inclusive Schools initiative and making sure teachers and educators get good guidance about supporting their students.

The Government will also develop a central information hub so LGBTIQ+ people can find services and supports in Canberra, and support initiatives for mainstream services to pledge that they are LGBTIQ+ inclusive.

It will prioritise doing business with organisations that provide inclusive and non-discriminatory services to the public, and advertise vacancies on ACT Government boards and committees in a way that directly targets LGBTIQ+ people and communities.

The plans say community-based organisations will be funded to deliver targeted, peer-led services for LGBTIQ+ people, their families and communities.

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