Victoria: Green party councillor on dangers of conversion therapy ban

19, August 2022

The dangers of the repressive ‘conversion therapy’ ban in Victoria, Australia, are now widely known. But it was still a surprise to some when a councillor for the Victorian Green Party began to raise concerns.

Comments made by Councillor Rohan Leppert, who describes himself as gay, were leaked after he expressed apprehensions about the Bill in a private Facebook group. It caused uproar among colleagues who strongly supported the far-reaching legislation.

He explained that such a broad law could see higher numbers of young people being put on lifelong medical pathways, leading to more regret and detransition in the future.

In the messages leaked in March he said that his concerns came from the personal experience of a friend, who had “managed to escape a transition pathway they had commenced”, and others who struggled with their gender around puberty. He explained that many people fear that “girls in a similar situation today are being told they are trans”.

“The law in Victoria may have been constructed in a way that will result in an excessive diagnosis of gender dysphoria and prescription of puberty blockers, HRT and surgery, increasing the phenomenon of detransitioning in the future.”

He explained that he had read the Victorian conversion therapy ban wording “very closely and would suggest that not only is ‘affirmation only’ a fair description of [its] dominant approach to gender dysphoria but that alternative approaches are criminalised”.

The comments were made around the same time as the Victorian Human Rights Commission, responsible for enforcement of the ban, released official guidance which says “not affirming someone’s gender identity” is now an illegal practice, and that parents who refuse to support their children receiving puberty-blocking drugs are breaking the new law.

Not only does the Bill demand affirmation of children’s gender identity, but it also criminalises those who dispute other aspects of radical LGBT ideology, especially Christians who uphold the biblical sexual ethic. ‘Prayer’ is explicitly covered by the ban, while excommunication for those persisting in same-sex relationships, or churches encouraging abstinence for those not in heterosexual marriage are given as examples of ‘conversion therapy’ by the guidance.

In the UK, activists have called for new laws to be modelled on the Victorian legislation. It has been put forward by Stonewall and the Ban Conversion Therapy campaign as the ‘gold-standard’ to be copied by the Westminster, Scottish, and Northern Irish Parliaments.

But just this week the Australian Daily Mail has described parents being caught in distressing situations with no access to suitable healthcare for their vulnerable children. “While the parents are powerless to intercede, their kids are often subject to encouragement and cajoling from activist pro-trans teachers and counsellors” says the paper. Is that really a law we should copy in the UK?

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