There are positive signs in the legal framework around so-called “conversion therapy” laws with the release of the latest draft of Tasmania’s proposed legislation.
Conversion therapy laws are based on a false premise of harmful conversion practices that do not take place in Australian society today.
They also promote an LGBT ideology which goes against Biblical truth and God’s good designs and can prevent parents from expressing concerns about medical interventions that might be irreversible such as puberty blockers.
At their core, Tasmania’s draft conversion therapy laws continue this trend and they are a serious concern.
However, the draft laws are different in key ways from the worst versions of these laws such as those in Victoria.
In fact, they’re even being criticised by transgender activists specifically because these laws carve out some exceptions for parents, people of faith and religious institutions.
Tasmania’s draft expressly excludes some activity from its definition of “conversion practice”, explicitly stating that the “expression of an opinion, idea or belief”, including religious principles or “the provision of parental guidance”, is not prohibited conduct.
The law also provides a defence if a person consents to the “conversion practice”, unlike the Victorian law which makes any such activity unlawful even when a person asks for it.
However, the Tasmanian bill still includes concerning provisions. It carries penalties of up to 18 months prison or $29,250 for individuals, or $58,500 for organisations who may violate the laws.
It also still prohibits the publication or display of an “advertisement or other notice” that may promote a “conversion practice”, which may have unintended consequences for churches or faith-based organisations offering support to people seeking counselling or struggling with their identity.
And it still contributes to the idea that the Christian teaching of repentance and the pursuit of a righteous life can be “harmful” – an unequivocal attack on freedom of speech and religion.
While it is positive that these laws are not as bad as those in other jurisdictions, HRLA remains vigilant and concerned about the implications for people of faith.
The Tasmanian government is accepting submissions until February 16.
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