Australia

Labor promises ban on gay conversion therapy, but PM says it's a state issue

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he's against gay conversion therapy but banning the discredited practice is a matter for state governments.

Gay conversion therapy would be banned if Labor wins the federal election but Prime Minister Scott Morrison argues it's up to state governments to stamp out the discredited practice.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will on Tuesday announce a commitment to outlaw conversion therapy if he wins the May 18 poll.

Mr Morrison opposes the controversial therapy, which has been widely condemned by psychiatrists around the world.

"I don't support gay conversion therapy, don't recommend it, never have but it's ultimately a matter for the states," the prime minister told Sky News on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and wife Jenny sing during an Easter Sunday service at his Horizon Church at Sutherland in Sydney, Sunday, April 21, 2019. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING
Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who is a member of the Pentecostal Horizon Church, says gay conversion therapy is a matter for states.
AAP

"I think we should focus on the things we actually have control over and that's taxes. I'm looking to lower taxes."

In October, a Human Rights Law Centre report found 10 per cent of LGBTIQ+ Australians are exposed to conversion therapy. 

At the time, 10 organisations in Australia and New Zealand were advertising the provision of conversion therapies. 

Labor has pledged to work with survivors and advocates on a range of strategies to end the insidious practice, including a nationwide ban.

Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus.
Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus says gay conversion therapy is an insidious practice.
AAP

"There is no place in modern Australia for this practice," shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus said in a statement.

"Labor believes that no one should be subjected to painful, unnecessary and harmful pseudoscientific practices."

National LGBTIQ+ advocacy group Equality Australia has welcomed Mr Shorten's pledge to take action at a national level.

"It's fantastic to see federal Labor commit to playing a leadership role in tackling the lasting harm caused by these insidious practices in faith communities across the nation," chief executive Anna Brown said in a statement.

"There is a role for both the federal and state governments to play in developing legislation, policies and programs to end the harm caused by anti-LGBT conversion therapy."

In February, Victoria became the first state to commit to banning gay conversion therapy.

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