In some parts of the world, legislators have proposed bills to bar gender transition for children due to concerns such as these.
Samantha Ratnam, the Victorian Green Party Leader, said many arguments against the Victoria bill were “inherently homophobic and wrong.” She appeared to question whether good faith opposition to the law is possible, saying “It’s hard to fathom that we're even debating this matter in this parliament because it implies that there are valid arguments on either side of this debate when clearly there aren’t.”
The view was echoed by Victoria Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes.
“LGBT people are not ‘broken’ and they do not need to be ‘fixed’. These views won’t be tolerated in Victoria, and neither will change or suppression practices,” she said.
Symes said the bill’s backers “consulted closely with survivors, LGBTIQ+ organizations and religious organizations on the legislation to make sure it is effective in stamping out abhorrent change and suppression practices once and for all.”
She added that the proposal strikes the “right balance” between its goals and “respecting the rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion.”
However, Adel Salman, vice president of the Islamic Council of Victoria, said there was no consultation with religious groups in a way that could have avoided problems.
“There’s overreach there that impinges on the rights of individuals to practice their faith freely, for people to seek guidance, for parents to parent,” he said of the bill.
Shadow Attorney-General Edward O'Donohue, part of the Liberal/National Coalition, cited concerns from the medical community that the proposal’s provisions would compromise psychiatric and psychotherapy practices.
“As it currently stands, the bill would mean medical professionals would be unable to provide full and frank professional opinions to their patients and could risk up to 10 years' imprisonment for doing so,” O’Donohue said, calling for a pause on the bill.
Victoria state has about 6.7 million people and is the second-most populous state in Australia. Catholics make up about 23% of the population, according to 2016 census data. About 48% of its overall population is Christian, while 32% profess no religion.
More than 30 religious leaders, including Jewish and Hindu leaders, have voiced opposition to the bill, the newspaper The Age reports.
Bishop Brad Billings of the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne also voiced concern, telling the Australian Associated Press that the bill “has some potentially serious unintended consequences in respect to fundamental human rights such as the freedom of speech, the protection of religious belief and freedom of conscience.”
“It potentially criminalizes the provision of pastoral care and may limit the ability of parents to guide their children,” he warned.