Newcastle Anglican Bishop Peter Stuart has provided strong backing and advocacy towards a ban on the highly damaging practice of conversion therapy, saying the bill is “no threat to churches preaching and teaching.”
The Conversion Practices Prohibition Bill 2023 was drafted by Independent MP Alex Greenwich.
The legislation aims to outlaw sustained efforts and treatments aimed at changing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
The proposed law would allow for investigation and potential referrals to the Health Care Complaints Commission, the Ombudsman or the NSW Police.
While some church leaders were vocal in their strong opposition to the bill, the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle advocates for integrity and equity.
Bishop Peter believes the legislation will give NSW world’s best practice.
“Many of our fellow citizens find their journey of selfdiscovery about their gender and sexuality deeply demanding,” he said.
“This awareness can turn into a nightmare when they are challenged by their families, culture, or religion. The dark face of this challenge is conversion therapy or conversion practice, which has the explicit and implicit message – you are not wanted for who you are.”
Bishop Peter reaffirmed his position as a proud LGBTIQA+ ally.
“I want a safer NSW. LGBTIQA+ people tell us that to be open about their questions is to risk exclusion and isolation,” he added.
“There is enough evidence to show that these conversion practices represent a critical risk to LGBTIQA+ people. Those who have experienced conversion practices speak of the damage done to them, including persistent thoughts of ending their lives.
“This proposed bill bans certain practices which are well recognised as harmful. It ensures that our LGBTIQA+ citizens will be protected, especially children.”
The bill has since been backed by both major political parties in NSW and will bring the state in line with Victoria, Queensland and the ACT, where the practice is already banned.