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NSW Anti-Conversion Laws Delayed

by | Tue, Nov 28 2023

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The New South Wales government has shelved its promised plan to introduce anti-conversion laws this year following pressure from both Christian and LGBT advocates for more time to ensure that the “sensitive” legislation strikes the right balance.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher wrote to NSW Premier Chris Minns, asking for the government to “refrain from tabling the bill” because it contains a “number of problematic proposals put forward in the initial consultation and is inconsistent with commitments made prior to the election”.

“Rushing legislation as sensitive as this will likely result in uncertainty and unintended consequences, especially for children experiencing gender dysphoria and their parents and carers,” Archbishop Fisher wrote in his letter.

The Australian Christian Lobby’s Christopher Brohier agreed, telling Vision Radio that NSW should drop its plans for the anti-conversion laws altogether in order to protect children from physical gender transitions:

“They’ve put it off to consult more with all sectors of the community. That’s a good thing because I think increasingly it’s clear that this sort of legislation really is pushing kids into harmful treatment. I had an occasion yesterday to talk to a lady who has been through most of this treatment, including surgery, and she found her mental health getting worse and worse and worse. It wasn’t until she came across a psychiatrist who was helping her understand that it wasn’t her body that was the problem and there’d been other issues in her past that had to be dealt with, that she was able to make a recovery,” Mr. Brohier said.

“We simply can’t channel kids into this sort of treatment. Senator Alex Antic has a bill which unfortunately the Senate didn’t allow to go to a committee, calling for a ban on gender treatment as the rest of the world is moving on this — Sweden, Norway, Finland, France, the UK and states in the US. These aren’t fly by night countries. These are heavy hitters who are leading the way in many of these places who’ve pulled back from it. And we mustn’t push kids in. This legislation is part of that push and it shouldn’t go ahead,” he added.

Archbishop Fisher said it was “worth noting” that the UK and Scottish governments had paused their plans to legislate a similar ban because the laws “risk criminalising the actions of parents.”

”I am confident that if more time is allowed, [you can achieve] the goal of fulfilling your commitments to outlaw harmful practices aimed at changing a person’s sexual orientation without unnecessarily straying into more contentious matters,” the Catholic leader said.

Murray Norman, the chief executive officer of Faith NSW, said other faith communities had also been concerned about “ensuring protections are given to people of faith, families and parents”.

Independent NSW MP Alex Greenwich also lobbied Premier Minns not to rush the laws and risk “unintended consequences.” He has his own bill to ban conversion practices before the NSW parliament, but called for the government’s bill to be delayed to allow more consultation with those he describes as “survivors of this harmful practice”.