Queensland has become Australia’s first state to criminalise gay conversion therapy, having voted to illegalize the “highly destructive and unethical” practise by state politicians.
“Being LGBTIQ is not an affliction or disease that requires medical treatment,” the state’s Health Minister, Steven Miles, said in parliament Thursday.
“No treatment or practice can change a person’s sexual attraction or experience of gender.”
Under the Health Legislation Amendment Act, health practitioners who seek to “to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity” could face up to 18 months in prison, with a suite of practises including “conditioning techniques such as aversion therapy, psychoanalysis and hypnotherapy, clinical interventions, including counselling, or group activities that aim to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity”
President of the Queensland Council for LGBTI Health, Peter Black, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation the ban “sends a clear message to Queenslanders that conversion therapy is harmful in all contexts”.
“It is important that there are penalties for this dangerous and discredited practice,” Mr Black said.
“There continues to be a need for education and further research on the harms of conversion therapies, as well as support for survivors of conversion therapies.”
In an effort to become straight, the study presented troubling testimony from people who went through a process of gay conversion therapy – some voluntarily, some by force.
Mary was sent to conversion therapy after telling her mother that she was in love with another young woman in her church party, not her real name, now 49 years old.
Her parents and extended family were missionaries and pastors who, when she was just 17 years old, locked her away in a mental institution, where she was forced to sit in a bath full of ice cubes, as parts of the Bible were constantly read to her, and handcuffed to her pillow.
“Then I remember going into another room … with a surgical table, and being restrained … having an electrode attached to my labia; and images projected on to the ceiling … and a lot of pain from the electrodes; and being left there for quite a long time afterwards, exposed and alone,” she told the researchers.
Hers was just one of many testimonies included in the report.