Conversion therapy, also known as “ex-gay” therapy, is a controversial practice that aims to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. It is widely discredited by medical and psychological organizations and has been banned in several states in Australia. In this article, we will explain what conversion therapy is, the potential harms it can cause and the laws surrounding it in Australia.

1. What is conversion therapy?

Conversion therapy is a pseudoscientific practice that aims to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. It can take many forms, including counselling, hypnosis, and behavioural therapy. The practice is based on the idea that being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is a mental disorder that can be “cured.” However, this idea has been discredited by major mental health organizations, such as the American Psychological Association and the World Health Organization.

2. Potential harms of conversion therapy

Conversion therapy can cause significant harm to individuals who are subjected to it. Research has shown that it can lead to increased rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide. It can also cause individuals to experience feelings of self-loathing and shame, which can lead to a loss of self-esteem and self-worth. Additionally, the practice can lead to a loss of support networks and social isolation, which can further exacerbate the negative mental health effects.

3. Conversion therapy laws in Australia

Currently, conversion therapy is banned in Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory for minors. In Queensland, legislation has been introduced to ban it for all individuals. However, there is currently no federal law banning conversion therapy in Australia. In January 2021, the Australian government has committed to banning conversion therapy across the country, but the details of the ban are yet to be announced.

4. Importance of accepting and affirming LGBTQ+ individuals

It is important to understand that being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or any other gender identity or sexual orientation is not a mental disorder or something that needs to be “cured.” Instead, accepting and affirming the identities of LGBTQ+ individuals is the best way to support their mental health and well-being.

In conclusion, Conversion therapy, also known as “ex-gay” therapy, is a controversial practice that aims to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. It is widely discredited by medical and psychological organizations and has been banned in several states in Australia, however, there is currently no federal law banning it. It is important to understand that being LGBTQ+ is not a mental disorder and accepting and affirming these individuals is the best way to support their mental health and well-being.