Robocalls spark outrage over conversion therapy laws

Dominic Giannini 18 August 2020 15

Justice Minister Shane Rattenbury, who co-sponsored the ban on conversion therapy, says the calls are factually wrong and entirely false. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

The ACT Government has hit out at robocalls from conservative Melbourne-based group Binary Australia, calling its claims about the ban on gender conversion therapy “factually wrong … entirely false and misleading”.

The calls asked Canberrans to complete a survey about the legislation, claiming the laws could change access to medical and hormone treatments as well as remove the ability of parents to be involved in their child’s decision to change their gender identity from as young as five.

Minister for Justice Shane Rattenbury, who co-sponsored the bill with Chief Minister Andrew Barr, said, at best, the calls grossly misunderstood and misrepresented the legislation.

“The poll rang up and went on to ask a series of questions that in my view can only be considered push-polling; they were putting [forward] a certain perspective,” Mr Rattenbury told ABC Radio this morning.


READ MORE: Laws to ban gay conversion therapy introduced in Assembly


The calls asked voters whether they support the legislation that allowed children as young as 12 to medically transition.

“The legislation does no such thing. This legislation does not allow medical procedures, it is simply about a name change on a certificate,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“I find this polling particularly offensive because it is factually incorrect. The legislation is very clear about where parental involvement is necessary, it is simply dishonest push-polling.”

The proposed legislation to ban conversion therapy has been criticised by Christian Schools Australia (CSA) for its definition of conversion therapy, saying “parents, teachers, and doctors need clarity and certainty to avoid potential jail terms”.

“The Bill risks criminalising the conduct of parents … and deprives parents the right to guide their children’s upbringing,” the CSA said.

Amendments to the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act regarding gender changes on birth certificates, despite passing the Assembly unanimously, then drew the criticism of Liberal MLA Andrew Wall who said the bill was an attack on parents and children.

“From now on, your 12-year-old son or daughter can apply to erase their birth sex on their birth certificate and replace it with whatever gender they decide, without your knowledge or consent,” Mr Wall said in an email.

“It is one of those decisions that should absolutely involve parents.”

Children over the age of 16 can apply directly to Access Canberra to have their gender changed on their birth certificate while children between the age of 12 and 16 must apply for leave through the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal to change it without their parents’ permission.

“On Friday we saw Andrew Wall send out an email to his supporters entitled ‘Behind the Back of Parents’ which again made the suggestion that parents would not be involved in these sorts of decisions,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“There is some sort of capability in the legislation for older children to apply where they do not have parental support but the representation in these emails and this polling is simply, well, the most generous thing I can say is they do not understand the legislation.”

If you are experiencing distress or need to talk to someone, you can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, Kids Helpline of 1800 55 1800 or QLife on 1800 184 527 between 3:00 pm and midnight.

For ACT-based support, Westlund Counselling is open between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm and can be contacted on 0412 882 855, and A Gender Agenda can be contacted on 6162 1924 during the same hours.


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15 Responses to Robocalls spark outrage over conversion therapy laws
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Ken Mansell Ken Mansell 10:33 am 20 Aug 20

From the Government spokeswomen yesterday “a parent does not have to agree with a child. However, they could not take active steps to change a child’s gender identity” (see CT article – but RiotAct is much better). So it looks like Acton below is right. If a parent tells a biological 5 year old boy who says he wants to be a girl that they should enjoy their “boy” body and there are good things about being a boy, just like there are good things about being a girl, they appear to have committed a criminal offence. ouch… but I’m no expert here…

Deref Deref 2:30 pm 19 Aug 20

I hope they fine these low-life scum to within a mm of their miserable lives.

ssek ssek 3:41 pm 18 Aug 20

From what I can see, the bill being introduced is a gross over reach into parents ability to decide what is best for minors they are legally responsible for. As usual, the greens are pushing a social justice agenda with no regard for the consequences.

A 12 year old child should not be making ANY serious legal decisions without parental consent or involvement. A parent should absolutely be able to question a CHILD about why they believe they are the opposite sex. They should also have the right to seek out Psychiatric evaluation for that child without fearing legal repercussion. This is a mental illness, and ignoring that fact and being forced to just go along for the ride without question is outright dangerous.

This is virtue signalling to the complete detriment of children and families, and is quite frankly, repulsive and shameful.

    Mysteryman Mysteryman 9:22 am 20 Aug 20

    You got that 100% right. And the fact that the ACT government has chosen to push this through, ignoring community consultation while using COVID-19 as a smoke screen, says to me that they also know it’s a disgusting over reach. Shameful virtue-signalling at its best, and Rattenbury’s response – attempting to paint the surveying calls as something offensive – shows how desperate he is to keep this all under wraps. Time for this clowns to be voted out.

Stephen Saunders Stephen Saunders 2:07 pm 18 Aug 20

It starts at the top. Three of the last six PMs have been full of religious prejudice. Abbott was locked on the “boys will be boys” strain of junk science. Morrison sniggers at “gender whisperers”. “Skin curling” state schools weren’t good enough for his Lily and Abbey.

Acton Acton 1:25 pm 18 Aug 20

Is it true or false that this bill will “remove the ability of parents to be involved in their child’s decision to change their gender identity from as young as five.”?
I don’t know, because I have not seen this bill which the Greens are pushing. I do know that the Greens don’t have a mandate from the people of Canberra to legislate away the rights and interests of parents trying to thwart some bizarre impulse of their pre-teen or teenage child. There has been no public debate and only selected groups were invited to comment on the draft. Frankly, we cannot trust the Greens and their thought-bubble agendas.

    Kim Kim 2:54 pm 18 Aug 20

    A simple Google search will give you the legislation Acton https://www.legislation.act.gov.au/b/db_62836/. Like all legislation of this type it was debated extensively in the Assembly on 23/7/20 & 13/8/20. The Hansard transcripts are on the ACT parliamentary website. Andrew Wall wasn’t in the Assembly during the debate, did not contribute to the debate and his party voted to support the legislation.

    Acton Acton 4:35 pm 18 Aug 20

    That is not reassuring. The link is to the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Amendment Bill 2020’ and neither that bill or the related explanatory statement delivered by Rattenbury cover or discuss to the issue of ‘gay conversion therapy’. What that bill is about is enabling a person under 18 to apply to change their registered sex and/or name without parental consent.

    Kim Kim 11:14 am 19 Aug 20

    Of course you won’t find anything about ‘gay conversion therapy’ Acton. Where in goodness name did you get that? Read the above article again, the legislation is not about medical procedures, it is simply a name change on a Birth Certificate and is quite clear on parental consent. The legislation was debated on 23/7 and 13/8 in the Assembly and voted unanimously by all 3 parties. Despite Andrew Wall’s party voting unanimously for the Bill, he and his fellow moralist colleagues are now trying to undermine the legislation and conflate it into something that it isn’t.

    Daria Sigma Daria Sigma 6:11 pm 18 Aug 20

    ‘ I do know that the Greens don’t have a mandate from the people of Canberra to legislate away the rights and interests of parents trying to thwart some bizarre impulse of their pre-teen or teenage child. ’
    Kim’s right, have a read of the link above. Short version, though, it doesn’t do that.

    Ken Mansell Ken Mansell 6:23 pm 18 Aug 20

    That’s not the Bill Acton is asking about (he is not asking about the amendment to change gender on birth certificates). He is asking about the Conversion ban bill that has not been debated but is up for debate on the last day before the parliament closes before the election. It states that not affirming the gender choice of a child or vulnerable person can be a criminal offence… so it looks like Acton might be correct.

    Kim Kim 11:31 am 19 Aug 20

    The bill was about prohibiting certain practices aimed at changing a person’s sexuality or gender identity known as conversion therapy. Conversion therapy and the people who practice it cause considerable harm to the people that they direct it towards, particularly the young and vulnerable. From what I have read since its introduction on 13/8, the Australian Christian Lobby and other moralists are trying to conflate the bill into something that it isn’t. And yes Ken Mansell, it is up for debate on the last day before parliament closes before the election and I will be watching with interest.

    tim_c tim_c 1:37 pm 19 Aug 20

    What is not clear in the article is that there are two bills – one was passed last week (allowing change of sex as recorded on birth certificates – for children as young as 12) and another is to be voted on this week (prohibiting parents, teacher or counsellors from doing anything other than actively affirming the “chosen” gender of a person, including children as young as 5 – ie. the prohibition includes suggesting they “wait and see” if they grow out of their current ‘confusion’).

    Acton Acton 3:33 pm 19 Aug 20

    Thank you, that makes it clearer. Two bills, both pushed by the Greens to undermine parents and families.

    Kim Kim 7:16 pm 19 Aug 20

    I hope you familiarise yourself with the bills Acton and read the transcript of the gender conversion bill when it is debated in the Assembly. You will see that there is no undermining of parents and families. Conversion practices seek to convert LGBTIQ people, young and old. These practices are unnatural and abhorent in today’s society.

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