Civil and criminal law both needed to ban conversion therapy
19th Nov 2019
Conversion practices that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation should be regulated by a combination of criminal law and civil law, says the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA).
“Conversion practices have been found to cause serious psychological harm,” said Jeremy King, Victorian State President, ALA. “The law must be strengthened in Victoria firstly to deter conversion practices and secondly to allow individuals to seek compensation for the pain and trauma caused by the practice.
“The law should be used to protect children and anybody with a mental illness, cognitive impairment or intellectual disability from being subjected to these odious practices.”
The ALA is responding to the Department of Justice and Community Safety’s call for input following the Health Complaints Commissioner Inquiry into Conversion Therapy report, which recommended the introduction of legislation to ban conversion practices in Victoria.
“A criminal offence should be created to prevent parents or others from removing a person from Australia for forced or coerced conversion therapies and to respond to situations where there is a risk of physical harm,” said Mr King.
“In many cases it would be difficult to prove criminal activity, so in most situations civil penalties are more appropriate to respond to the harm presented by conversion therapy.
“Survivors of conversion therapy should be able to recover damages from providers of these services to compensate for the pain and suffering or psychological harm that result from these practices.”
The ALA is a national association of lawyers, academics and other professionals dedicated to protecting and promoting justice, freedom and the rights of the individual.