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Legislation to Prohibit Conversion Practices

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 28 February 2023

Tags: LGBTI, Legislation

Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Mr Speaker, I listened very carefully to the Premier's Address. One thing I noted was no mention of the promised legislation to prohibit conversion practices in Tasmania, which was a regrettable deficit in his speech. It tells me, unfortunately, that the conservatives in Jeremy Rockliff's Cabinet have got to him, potentially at the expense of LGBTIQ+ people.

In parliament this morning the member for Bass, Mrs Alexander, tabled a petition that spoke against the ban on conversion practices. It morphed into an attack on one of the most marginalised groups of people in our society, transgender kids.

As members of this House know, I am the mother - the very proud mother - of a young transgender man, Jasper. It worries me very much that there are now people in this Chamber who want to be part of this hateful pile-on towards a group of people who are already marginalised. In fact, people like Senator Claire Chandler seek to deny the very existence of transgender people.

Mr Speaker, the Greens choose love, acceptance and inclusion, and after hearing about that petition that was tabled this morning, it was such a relief and a delight to receive a letter from the Uniting Church of Australia, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania, this morning, which I will now read in part into the Hansard. I am thankful to this group of church leaders.

Dear Ms O'Connor,

On behalf of the Uniting Church in Tasmania and Victoria and the community services organisation of the church, Uniting Vic/Tas, we write to express our strong support for the introduction and passing of legislation to protect people from the harm of sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts.

Acting boldly, respectfully and compassionately to confront injustice underpins the shared values and practices of our respective organisations. We recognise that debate is an inevitable and integral part of change, and a wide range of perspectives will be expressed formally, publicly and privately throughout this process, both within the Tasmanian Parliament and within the general community. Views will be expressed that may come from deeply held convictions and beliefs which will be challenging for many. We encourage you to act with empathy to support all those who are affected.

At the inaugural assembly of the Uniting Church in 1977, a statement to the nation was issued, a clause in which declares that 'we will oppose all forms of discrimination which infringe basic rights and freedoms. We maintain the belief that all people should have the freedom to determine their own sexuality and identity, and every person deserves to be treated with fairness and respect. We celebrate diversity and value the lived experience of people of every faith, ethnicity, age, disability, culture, language, gender identity, sex and sexual orientation. Our commitment to oppose such discrimination only continues to grow and evolve.

Last year, the 16th Uniting Church National Assembly resolved to recognise that sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts are harmful to people's mental health and wellbeing, and we affirm that, 'every person is precious and entitled to live with dignity because they are God's children'.

We confirm that the Christian practices of prayer and pastoral care will continue to be offered to support and uphold people, not to harm or condemn anyone, including those in the LGBTQIA+ community. However, we also reflect that parts of the Uniting Church have historically not been immune to sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts, ideology and practices. Many people from LGBTQIA+ communities may associate the church with trauma, and we formally recognise the harm they faced.

We r-affirm our commitment to the ongoing work to ensure that the Uniting Church in Tasmania and Victoria and Uniting Vic/Tas provides safe spaces for all. We urge you to support the passing of legislation to protect people from the harm caused by conversion practices.

If you would like to discuss any elements of our position further, please do not hesitate to contact Jeremy Pettit, Uniting Vic/Tas, or Rowan Prior, Uniting Church Presbytery of Tasmania.


Bronwyn Pike AM, CEO of Uniting Vic/Tas

Reverend David Fotheringham, Moderator of Uniting Church Synod of Victoria/Tasmania

Jeremy Pettit, Executive Officer Tasmania, Uniting Vic/Tas

Rowan Prior, Chairperson of the Uniting Church Presbytery of Tasmania.

Mr Speaker, I am very thankful for the leadership shown by the Uniting Church in Australia's Synod of Victoria and Tasmania. I encourage all church leaders to take their lead from the loving and inclusive approach of the Uniting Church in Australia and to make sure that they are not, through their words and deeds, harming a group of people who are already marginalised and discriminated against in our community.