The Act passed the upper house of the Victorian Parliament in February 2021 and will come into operation in 2022.
In addition to obviously harmful practices such as aversion therapy or shock therapy, it bans counselling, therapy, treatment, advice, even conversations and prayer between family members or friends where directed to a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, even if a person requests it, if it expresses anything but full support of a person’s non-heterosexual sexual orientation or identified gender.
They risk criminal prosecution (5 to 10 year jail terms), loss of professional indemnity insurance cover, discipline by health regulatory bodies and/or severe fines ($98,000 or $200,000).
In a nutshell, the Act makes consensual practices or conduct requested and consented to, by an adult about the adult’s own sexual orientation or gender identity, illegal.
A few years ago, the Victorian government passed legislation allowing a person to change their gender identity once a year but now that person is banned from helping others change their gender identity! The number of de-transitioners is increasing showing the dangers of damaged lives and potential legal liability that will result from an uncritical affirmation approach which the Act will effectively mandate.
- Exclude family and community members.
- Limit the ban to “protected persons” being minors and those with impaired decision making capacity which would allow adults of sound mind to freely choose to engage in whatever counselling or other practices they wish.
- Permit the communicating of religious beliefs to all people and permit religious counselling, pastoral care and prayer for adults with informed consent and secondly, the right to leave.
- Remove the provisions banning change or suppression of gender identity. There was no evidence of problematic gender identity change practices that need to be banned.
- Remove the extended powers of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC) given it. The powers given to VEOHRC by the Act are greater than those given it under the Equal Opportunity Act (EOA). There is no need for such extended powers and they make VEOHRC conciliator, police and enforcer, in 1) determining whether there has been a breach of the Act, 2) issuing an enforcement notice, and then 3) enforcing agreements and notices. This will lead to breaches of natural justice and the right against self-incrimination while on the other hand no case has been made for VEOHRC to have greater powers in relation to change or suppression practices than it already has under the EOA in relation to discrimination.