Commission welcomes introduction of the Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill 2020
The Bill being introduced to Parliament today will further uphold and protect the human rights of LGBTIQ Victorians.
25 November 2020
Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner Kristen Hilton said the Commission welcomed the introduction of the Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill as an important step towards preventing and responding to harm still being inflicted on LGBTQ Victorians.
“This Bill makes clear that a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity is not a disorder, disease, illness or shortcoming. It affirms to all LGBTQ Victorians that they are not broken and do not need fixing – directly countering the harmful messages that sit at the core of LGBTQ change and suppression practices,” said Commissioner Hilton.
“LGBTIQ Victorians are welcome and valued members of our community, entitled to live their lives authentically and with dignity and safety.”
Change or suppression practices refer to any conduct that is directed towards a person for the purpose of changing or suppressing their sexual orientation or gender identity, or inducing them to do so. Research conducted over many years in Australia as well as internationally has repeatedly shown such efforts to be both harmful and ineffective. Survivors speak of deep grief and profound loss as a result of their experiences, which often has long-term impacts on their lives and relationships.
“The Bill is more than just symbolic – it introduces both criminal penalties and a civil response scheme for dealing with instances of LGBTQ change or suppression practices,” said Commissioner Hilton.
“In particular, the Bill will empower the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission to receive and respond to reports about LGBTQ change and suppression practices from any member of the community and to conduct investigations into change and suppression practices where there is indication that these may relate to a group of persons and be serious or systemic. This may then result in directing a person or organisation to take, or refrain from taking, certain actions, to comply with the Act. These undertakings and notices will be enforceable at VCAT.”
If desired by survivors, the Commission may also safely facilitate resolution to any issue raised, and has responsibility for delivering public education programs regarding change and suppression practices to prevent these practices from occurring.
“We look forward to working closely with survivors and LGBTQ people of faith to develop responses that will be effective in reaching and engaging those most at risk of perpetuating or experiencing change or suppression practices,” said Commissioner Hilton
The Bill also amends the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, updating the definitions of sexual orientation and gender identity to better reflect contemporary understanding and lived experiences, and to include sex characteristics as a new protected attribute under the Act.
Commissioner Hilton said the proposed amendments would strengthen the Equal Opportunity Act.
“Importantly, the introduction of the new attribute of ‘sex characteristics’ ensures intersex Victorians will be afforded protection from discrimination, promoting and strengthening their right to equality under the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities.”
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