As you will be aware, in late November 2020, the Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill 2020 was introduced to the Victorian Parliament. The Bill, its implications, and the speed to which the government were trying to move to push this Bill through, has caused concern to many people.
Some leaders and congregation members have asked what the BUV’s response has been to this. The following is an update on what actions we have taken, and what recommendations we have provided.
As the Bill is due to go back to Upper House of Victorian Parliament in February, we encourage all concerned to contact their local member of parliament within the next week. Click here for BUV’s Advocacy Resource
2nd Dec 2020 – BUV Bulletin – Advised BUV pastors and leaders of Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill 2020. Whilst BUV reviewed implications, we encouraged anyone who had concerns to contact their local member of parliament to express for amendments
The Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill 2020 was introduced into Victorian Parliament in late November. It is designed to address the negative impact of ‘gay conversion’ therapy. The Bill follows recent legislation in Queensland and the ACT for a similar purpose; but this Bill is by far the most dramatic.
At the heart of the Bill is the protection of vulnerable people from outdated conversion practices that may have been used in years gone by, for which we have no argument. We oppose those practices and pray that those individuals who have been harmed through this, may find peace and healing. It is the surrounding details that are more of a concern. As it stands, there is ambiguity in this Bill and details that are not answered and /or deliberately left open to interpretation.
The BUV Support Hub Leadership Team (in conjunction with the BUV’s honorary legal advisor) are currently reviewing the Bill and its implications for faith leaders around freedom of religion.
If you and your church have any concerns about the Bill we encourage churches and congregation members to write to your local members of Parliament expressing your concern and desire for amendments. Click here for a copy of the BUV’s Advocacy resource
8th Dec 2020 – Email from BUV Support Hub to every contact on the BUV database with 2 points of view on the Bill with recommendations
Click here to read full letter
The recommendation from the BUV Support Hub is that you:
- Read and pray about this and discern what God is saying – you may also be interested to read the following article that appeared in Saturday’s Age:
- Pray particularly for The Heads of the Victorian churches meeting tomorrow(Wednesday 9th December) where we will discuss this Bill.
- Contact your local MP and seek clarity on the issues of how the Bill protects the vulnerable while at the same time does not diminish freedom of conscience, religion and free speech.
- Explore with your MP the reasons related to not accepting adult consent to engage in prayer around sexuality.
The Bill is due to go back to Parliament this week (Thursday 10th December), so unfortunately time is of the essence, and we encourage you to make contact with your local MPs as quickly as possible.
9th Dec 2020 – Rev Daniel Bullock, BUV Director of Mission and Ministries, signs a letter sent from Vic Heads of Churches to Attorney General expressing concerns and desire for additional consultation time to allow for amendments
Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill (2020).
At a meeting of the Victorian Church Leaders Network, held 9th December 2020, the leaders unanimously supported the intention of the legislation to protect vulnerable people from coercive practices.
However, they also expressed concern over aspects of the legislation in its current form, and in particular, the speed at which that legislation has been brought to parliament, limiting the opportunity for wider community consultation.
Some leaders felt they have not been afforded adequate time to consider implications for the expression of prayer and religious faith, and to engage with you on these matters. The lack of clear definitions and clear articulation of what is or is not considered a harmful or suppressive practice has led to a significant level of concern as to the administration of the Act. It is those Victorian Church Leaders who bring you this letter.
The undersigned Victorian Church Leaders would ask that consideration be given to delaying a vote on the Bill to such time as the concerns of faith communities of Victoria can be adequately addressed.
20th Jan, 2021 – Rev Daniel Bullock, BUV Director of Mission and Ministries, attends Victorian Faith Leaders Meeting where Mark Sneddon, Executive Director, Institute for Civil Society provides a summary of issues related to the Bill and proposed amendments
PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO THE BILL
- The Bill should only ban “conversion practices” directed to a child or to a person with impaired capacity, but not to an adult who has consented to the practice.
- The bill should not ban conduct by family and community members but restrict the ban to conduct by health services providers
- The bill should protect conduct by health service providers which in their reasonable professional judgment is clinically appropriate
- The provisions dealing with change or suppression of gender identity should be removed because they are incoherent and they will push clinicians into an uncritical affirmation approach to gender transition
- The bill should permit communication of religious beliefs to all people and permit religious counselling, pastoral care and prayer for people over 16 with informed consent and the right to leave
- VEOHRC’S powers under the bill should be the same as under the equal opportunity act in dealing with discrimination and exclude new compulsory powers and issuing enforcement notices
21st Jan, 2021 – Rev Daniel Bullock, BUV Director of Mission and Ministries sends personal letters to each member of the Victorian Legislative Council expressing desire for additional consultation time to allow for processing the proposed amendments (as above)