Overview

New laws have been introduced into Parliament to ban practices that seek to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Change or suppression practices (also known as conversion practices) are any practices directed at an individual that attempt to change or suppress a person's sexual orientation or gender identity.

These are practices which have no basis in medicine; there is no evidence that sexual orientation or gender identity can be changed. Not only are these practices ineffective, they are deeply harmful and can cause long-term mental health issues and, in the most tragic of cases, suicide.

Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill 2020

The Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill 2020 denounces change or suppressions practices as deceptive and harmful, putting in place new measures to protect LGBT Victorians from the serious damage and trauma caused.

The Bill aims to clearly communicate that change or suppression practices are not tolerated or supported by the Victorian community in any form. It aims to ensure that Victorians are able to live their lives authentically with pride, and makes it clear an individual’s sexual orientation and gender identity are not “broken” and do not need to be “fixed”.

The new laws will include a civil response scheme established within the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC) to support survivors and address the harm they have endured.

The laws empower VEOHRC to consider and respond to reports of change or suppression practices from any person, as well as launch investigations where there is evidence of serious or systemic change or suppression practices.

Responses to reports will be survivor led and trauma informed, focusing on education and facilitation processes. This will ensure that any response meets the needs and wishes of the affected person.

The Bill also introduces new criminal offences, including for people who subject others to change or suppression practices that cause injury or serious injury – with up to ten years’ jail for the latter.

Additionally, a person who takes or arranges to take another person from Victoria for the purpose of subjecting them to change or suppression practices which cause injury could face a jail term of up to two years.

A person who advertises change or suppression practices could incur a maximum fine of nearly $10,000.

The Bill will also amend section 4 of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 to update outdated definitions of “gender identity” and “sexual orientation” in line with current usage, and add a new protected attribute of “sex characteristics”, to better protect intersex Victorians from discrimination.

The Bill was informed by feedback from Victorians who had their say on the proposed ban, including survivor organisations, LGBTIQ+ support and advocacy organisations, and religious organisations.

What you told us

During October and November 2019, we asked Victorians to have their say on the proposed ban.

You provided us with plenty of feedback:

  • 603 contributions to the Engage Victoria online survey
  • 82 written submissions
  • 21 face-to-face consultations with survivor organisations, LGBTIQ+ support and advocacy organisations, and religious organisations.

A clear majority of your contributions supported a ban of change or suppression practices.

We heard that it is important to adopt a broad definition to capture the range of practices that seek to change or suppress one’s gender identity and/or sexual orientation, including those practices that sit outside counselling and health services.

Your views on the details of the ban varied. These views were considered in the development of the Bill.

A consultation outcomes report summarising key themes and views is available below. The publishing of the report has been delayed due to the impacts of COVID-19. We appreciate your understanding and patience.

Support

If this page is upsetting or worrying, you can get help and support by contacting these organisations:

  • Thorne Harbour Health, Victoria’s largest LGBTI health organisation serving the health needs of LGBTIQ communities to ensure all gender, sex, and sexually diverse individuals are treated with dignity and can participate fully in society.
    Contact 1800 134 840 or at enquiries@thorneharbour.org
  • Queerspace is an LGBTIQ+ health and wellbeing support service.
    Contact 03 9663 6733 or enquiries@ds.org.au
  • Rainbow Door is a free specialist LGBTIQA+ helpline providing information, support and referral to all LGBTIQA+ Victorians, their family and friends during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.
    Contact 1800 729 367 or 0480 017 246 (SMS support)
  • Switchboard provides peer-driven support services for LGBTIQA+ people, their families, allies and communities from 10am – 6pm.
    Contac 1800 729 367 or support@rainbowdoor.org.au
  • QLife provides LGBTI peer support and referral for people wanting to talk about sexuality, identity, gender, bodies, feelings or relationships from 3pm – midnight.
    Contact: 1800 184 527
  • Lifeline provides 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.
    Contact: 13 11 14
  • Kids Helpline provides 24-hour counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25 years.
    Contact: 1800 551 800 or counsellor@kidshelpline.com.au
  • MensLine Australia provides 24-hour help, support, referrals and counselling services for men.
    Contact: 1300 789 978
  • Suicide Call Back Service provides 24-hour counselling for suicide prevention and mental health via telephone, online and video for anyone affected by suicidal thoughts.
    Contact: 1300 659 467
  • Beyond Blue provides 24-hour information, advice and support for people affected by anxiety, depression and suicide.
    Contact: 1300 224 636
  • Headspace provides information and support about mental health and wellbeing.
    Contact: 1800 650 890
  • ReachOut provides information, support and resources about mental health issues for people under 25 years.
    Contact: au.reachout.com