Last week, in partnership with the Uniting Church Synod of Victoria and Tasmania, we wrote to all members of the Tasmanian Parliament to express our strong support for the introduction and passing of legislation to protect people from the harm of sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts.
At Uniting, we firmly believe people should have the freedom to determine their own sexuality and identity, and every person, whatever their sexuality, sex, or gender identity, deserves to be treated with fairness and respect. As both a faith–based organisation and a provider of critical mental health services in regional and rural Tasmania, we have a particular duty to speak in support of our LGBTIQ+ consumers and the broader community to advocate the Tasmanian Government support of future legislation to protect those affected from harm.
Acting boldly, respectfully, and compassionately to confront injustice underpins Uniting values and practices. We called on each member to not just support the introduction and passing of such
legislation, but to act with empathy when engaging formally, publicly, or privately on this matter. Acknowledging debate is an inevitable and integral part of change, we encouraged them to reflect on their personal contribution and role in this process to ensure we prevent further harm to all those who are affected.
We were delighted that our letter and message were amplified during the first sitting day of the Tasmanian Parliament on 28 February, as it was read in full during a statement made by Leader of the Tasmanian Greens, Cassy O’Connor. We have since received reaffirmed support on this issue from the Tasmanian Labor party, with Rebecca White MP, leader of the Opposition responding:
“We appreciate the Uniting Church’s advocacy on this issue and the role of the Church in supporting LGTBQIA+ people. Labor will always support measures to make LGBTQIA+ people more welcome in Tasmania, and which emphasise the importance of best practice healthcare. It is vital that LGBTQIA+ Tasmanians are not subjected to unsafe and misinformed conversion practices and can live their lives free from interference and misinformation.”
Despite commitment from the Tasmanian Premier in June 2022 that legislation would be introduced to implement the recommendations outlined in the report completed by the Tasmania Law Reform Institute, no such draft legislation has been produced and no further announcements have been made. Uniting understands that additional policy analysis and community consultation is to be undertaken, with the Government awaiting advice resulting from such analysis before progressing any approach to reform.
Uniting Vic.Tas looks forward to the completion of this review and welcomes the opportunity to engage as part of the consultation process.