On Friday afternoon, the Committee examining the Health Legislation Amendment Bill 2020 (Qld) was tabled. View the tabled report
This is the Bill looking to ban ‘conversion therapy’ pertaining to sexual orientation or gender identity and which sought to include the vague notion of ‘suppression’ of sexual and gender identity as well. The framing of this Bill essentially mandates a 'child-led', affirmative treatment pathway for students presenting with gender dysphoria or confusion around gender – regardless of whether this is in line with the clinical judgment of the treater.
In an encouraging move, the Committee has recommended that there be clarity on what practices exactly would see clinicians (and school counsellors) wind up in prison for a maximum 12-month sentence. “Watchful waiting” remains a respected and cautious pastoral care method for schools. It must remain an option available to children, so that they are afforded a safe environment for concerns about themselves to resolve and dissipate.
The Bill jeopardises treatment other than active affirmation of a child's beliefs about themselves, however they arise (i.e. underlying causes) or whatever the implications. Queensland Health continues to staunchly back the legislation. However, as Emeritus Professor of Medicine at the University of Sydney noted, therapists should not be obliged “to pursue (sometimes deleterious) hormonal intervention as the only form of intervention” and that psychotherapeutic treatment should be available in appropriate cases of gender dysphoria, “as this has been shown to be effective”.
It remains to be seen whether Victoria and the ACT will heed the wisdom presented to the Queensland Government, and indeed, whether the Queensland Government will amend the Bill appropriately before introduction. Victoria is yet to report on the public consultation process it began last year and the ACT is yet to introduce the legislation it flagged last year on this topic. Many states are waiting for the outcome of the federal Religious Discrimination Bill 2019 before finalising their decisions on a number of related issues, from equal opportunity legislation to ‘conversion therapy’.