The state of Queensland in Australia ‘banned’ anti-LGBT+ conversion therapy last week – but they may as well not have bothered.
That’s according to LGBT+ advocates who say the ‘ban’ is ‘utterly ineffective’. They say it leaves out ‘informal religious settings’ where ‘the majority of conversion practice occurs’.
While there are no exact figures, experts agree religious groups dominate the dangerous and harmful ‘gay cure’ movements.
The Queensland Government of Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk promised to ban the cruel and unscientific ‘cures’.
However, anti-LGBT+ groups pressured it not to include religious organizations in the ban.
Shelley Argent is the national spokesperson for PFLAG+ – the organization for families and allies of LGBT+ people. Moreover, she is also a resident of Brisbane in Queensland.
She said Queensland may be the first state government to pass such a law but it shouldn’t have bothered:
‘The approach it took is uninformed and detrimental to those exposed because of the loophole allowing informal conversion practices in a religious setting.
‘Given that almost all conversion practice is undertaken in informal religious settings and not by health professionals, this new law is next to useless.
‘This legislation tries to solve what is largely a non-problem while leaving the real problem untouched.
‘This is like passing a law to ban cigarette advertising but excluding tobacco companies.’
Queensland’s ban is not even ‘a good first step’
Moreover, Australian LGBT+ advocates are now worried Queensland’s bill will be copied by other states.
Spokesperson for Australian LGBTIQ lobby group Just-Equal, Brian Greig, said it must not set a national precedent:
‘This legislation effectively includes a religious exemption which completely undermines its purpose and misses the target.
‘The message sent by the legislation is that informal, religious conversion practices are still okay and can be inflicted with impunity.
‘As other states and territories look to ban this cruel and abusive practice, the Queensland model is a shining example of what not to do.’
Indeed, Greig even dismisses the claim the legislation is ‘a good first step’. He said:
‘This legislation was enacted in a rush by a state government that wants to look gay-friendly two months out from an election, but is unduly afraid of the religious right.
‘As LGBTIQ Australians know from bitter experience, carve outs allowing anti-LGBTIQ discrimination in the name of religion are almost impossible to remove from legislation. Some state discrimination exemptions are still in place after 40 years.’
‘Conversion therapy’ bans around the world
Queensland’s intervention comes at a time when more states and countries are considering ‘conversion therapy bans’ than ever. Indeed, Australia may put in a nationwide ban.
So far only Malta, Ecuador, Brazil, Taiwan and Germany have introduced legal bans.
There are already bans in 20 US states: New Jersey, California, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New Mexico, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Nevada, Washington, Hawaii, Delaware, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, Massachusetts, Maine, Colorado, Utah and Virginia as well as Washington DC and Puerto Rico.
Moreover, Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee for the presidency, has promised he will ban the ‘therapies’ if he gets to the White House.
Meanwhile international LGBT+ organization ILGA World predicted 2020 could be a breakthrough year on the issue worldwide.
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