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Australian parents face jail for trying to stop their children from ‘transitioning’ if gay conversion ban passes

Gay conversion ban bill

Parents in Australia’s most populous state could be imprisoned for up to five years if they try to stop their children from undergoing dangerous and irreversible “gender-affirming care“.

The New South Wales bill to ban gay conversion therapy is back in parliament this week, but critics warned the legislation will harm children and criminalise parents who do not support their children’s “gender identities”.

The Conversion Practices Ban Bill 2024, originally proposed by gay independent MP Alex Greenwich, aims to “make it an offence to engage in conversion practices with the intention of changing or suppressing an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity”.

The bill defines a conversion practice as “a practice, treatment or sustained effort, that is directed to an individual on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity with the intention of changing or suppressing that sexual orientation or gender identity”.

To be an offense the conversion practice must cause “physical or mental harm” that endangers life or is “substantial”.

The bill provides only limited exceptions, including for parents “discussing” related matters, for expressing religion beliefs, and for health services practioners.

Libertarian Party NSW member John Ruddick called the bill “concerning” and said he would on Tuesday refer it to a committee for an inquiry.

“[The bill]could make it significantly harder to access counselling for children who are considering gender re-assignment surgery and puberty blockers,” Mr Ruddick said.

“This is concerning in light of recent developments overseas where a growing number of jurisdictions are moving away from the ‘gender affirmation model’ of care.”

He pointed to a recent decision by Britain’s National Health Service to ban puberty blockers for children at gender clinics, and recent revelations about doctors expressing concerns about lack of informed consent from children given “gender-affirming care”.

“I want to hear from ‘de-transitioners’ who live with regret for having proceeded with gender re-assignment surgery and I also want to hear from those who report a long-term positive experience,” he said.

Independent think tank Women’s Forum Australia supported Mr Ruddick’s call for an inquiry, calling it a “no-brainer”.

“NSW Labor’s approach to gender identity in its vaguely drafted conversion ban bill is deeply problematic in light of the escalating shift away from gender medicine,” WFA said.

Labor does not need Coalition for the bill to pass and is believed to be prepared to accept amendments. NSW Liberal leader Mark Speakman said his party was reviewing the legislation “in good faith”.

A similar bill in Victoria caused deep divisions within the Liberal party in that state in 2021.

Women’s rights campaigner Kat Karena said on X: “The Conversion Practices Ban Bill, introduced by the NSW Labor Government, as written will harm children and infringe upon parental rights.

“Despite provisions claiming to protect parental rights to discuss sexual orientation, gender identity, sexual activity, or religion, the reality is starkly different.

“The bill effectively penalises parents who do not unconditionally affirm a child’s self-declared gender identity, threatening to criminalise them for prudent and thoughtful guidance.

“This is a clear encroachment on parental rights and jeopardises the nuanced care and support parents offer to their children.”

The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies voted to support a ban similar to one in Victoria in 2021, and this week Rabbi Jacqueline Ninio, from Woollahra’s Emanuel Synagogue, spoke out in favour of Labor’s bill.

“We fully support the ban and plead with all politicians in parliament to enact laws to protect and create a safe world for all people,” she said.

Equality Australia also welcomed the bill and CEO Anna Brown said: “We stand with survivors in welcoming this bill and we urge all MPs to seize this opportunity to end these archaic and harmful practices which have already caused untold harm and have no place in modern Australia.”

Last month Liberal senator Claire Chandler said she was worried about Australian hospitals ignoring warnings from detransitioners, doctors and psychiatrics about the youth gender medicine industry, after it was revealed that Melbourne’s Royal Children’s hospital is offering “gender affirming care” for children as young as three.

“It’s incredibly concerning that in Australia these alarms are still being ignored and children are being put on pathways towards irreversible and potentially dangerous drugs and surgeries,” she told Daily Mail Australia.

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