The New South Wales Labor Party has pledged to ban any attempt to ‘convert’ people over their sexuality and gender identity, if it’s elected to power in next month’s state election.
The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) fears if Labor wins, the state could adopt the Victorian model which overrides parental rights and outlaws prayer.
ACL National Director of Politics Wendy Francis told Vision Radio that’s a major concern:
“Shock therapy or brainwashing treatment, that sort of thing, that is already unlawful. And of course we would be opposed to that. But there is no evidence of it happening in New South Wales, or indeed around Australia. The serious concern is that the real objective is to do a Victorian style policy,” Ms. Francis explained.
“They outlaw even consensual counselling and prayer in Victoria where it’s a criminal offence for a parent to have a conversation with a child trying to stop them from wanting to transition to a transgender identity,” she said.
“It would be unlawful to talk to anybody in terms of resisting any sort of temptation that we would say was outside God’s parameters. The Victorian legislation explicitly says that it applies to carrying out a religious practice, including prayer. So this is an incredibly concerning development in New South Wales. What we’re talking about is people who are asking for prayer and not being able to get it because of the criminal penalty attached there.”
ACL NSW Director Rob Norman says: “If NSW Labor intends following the Victorian model of conversion therapy bans which remove parental rights to seek assistance for their children and criminalise medical practitioners for consulting according to best practice, then they can expect strong pushback.”
“Prior to the election NSW voters are seeking assurances from [Labor leader] Chris Minns and Premier Dominic Perrottet that parents will remain free to talk to their children about issues of gender and sexuality without fear of criminal sanction, and medical practitioners will be allowed to consult according to their patient’s best interests,” he said.
“The Victorian so-called conversion therapy prohibition is terrible public policy as it harms the very ones it purports to protect.”
Mr. Norman underlines that: “As NSW has no laws preventing religious discrimination, any introduction of Victorian-style conversion therapy laws would lead to a disproportionate removal of freedom of speech and freedom of religion.”
The NSW Liberal Party has yet to make an official commitment either way.
The ACL urges the government to include on its planned joint working group, “stakeholders from faith-based groups as well as parents of children who are currently being treated compassionately with the global best practice of watchful waiting.”