Australia makes progress on banning gay conversion therapy
While it seems surprising that Australia’s federal government is apparently unable to tackle gay conversion therapy, the good news is that progress is being made at state level.
In recent months, both the state of Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory have both banned gay conversion therapy. Next in line is the state of Victoria.
The state government in Victoria has brought legislation before the parliament that will ban gay conversion therapy, and a vote on the legislation is expected in the coming months.
“No one is ‘broken’ because of their sexuality or gender identity…” said Jill Hennessy – the state’s attorney-general. “These views won’t be tolerated in Victoria and neither will these abhorrent practices.”
What’s life like for LGBTQ people in Australia?
Is it legal to be gay?
The United Kingdom invaded the continent we now know as Australia in 1788. The colonies that they established inherited their laws from the UK – including the Buggery Act of 1533 that made sodomy a crime punishable by death.
Over time, the colonies developed into states, and a federation was created so that they could operate as one country.
Sodomy remained a crime punishable by death until 1949 (some states removed it earlier than others).
Being gay remained a crime in Australia until 1997 (although some states began the repeal process in 1975).
It is now legal to be gay in Australia.
Is there anti-discrimination legislation in place?
Comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation was implemented across all states in Australia in 2013. Prior to that, the anti-discrimination protections had been evolving (from around 1986) but had been fragmented.
An emerging challenge to the anti-discrimination framework that has been established in Australia is the current government’s plans to introduce new religious discrimination legislation. This could create new religious freedom grounds for discrimination against LGBTQ people.
Is there marriage equality?
Following a public vote in 2017, Australia has embraced marriage equality.
What’s life like for LGBTQ people who live in Australia?
While there are still isolated incidents of homophobia and anti-gay violence, Australia is a good place to be gay.
You will find gay people living openly in communities across the country (not just the larger cities), and media representation of LGBTQ characters is generally positive. There are numerous Pride celebrations held across the country.
However, LGBTQ people from Indigenous communities have poorer health outcomes and face additional barriers to living openly.
This is an easy country to visit as an LGBTQ traveller. You can travel as a same-sex couple and expect everywhere to welcome you.
Australia can sometimes be a surprisingly socially conservative place, but public displays of affection generally won’t cause any issues.