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Searching the Reins and Hearts: Conversion Practices Reforms in Australia


Martin Clark and Brendan Gogarty

Conversion practices seek to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. There is no scientific evidence to support the efficacy of these practices, and considerable evidence that they can cause serious physical, mental and social harm. Despite this, conversion practices have taken and continue to take place across Australia. Recently, Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory and Victoria statutorily proscribed conversion practices, and almost all other States and Territories have committed to reforming their laws. This article analyses recent and proposed law reform models, and considers the best-practice regulatory approach to reducing the incidence of conversion practices and their risks to individuals and the community. We argue for a dual, non-carceral approach that targets conversion practices as a form of pseudo-medical malpractice under existing healthcare laws, and the promotion of the beliefs underlying the practices as a form of discriminatory incitement under anti-discrimination or human rights laws.

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(2024) 47(1) UNSWLJ 5: