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The bill seeks to ban practices aimed at changing or suppressing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity (Bigstock)

Faith leaders welcomed exceptions for religious faith and practice in the New South Wales Government’s proposed conversion practices ban but warned that the laws may still negatively affect faith communities. Source: The Catholic Weekly. 

Prayer, homilies, advice and religious teachings about sexuality would not be penalised under the laws, NSW Attorney General Michael Daley said in introducing the bill to Parliament on Wednesday. 

The bill seeks to ban practices such as electric shock therapy, physical violence and talking therapies aimed at changing or suppressing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, while making provisions for the expression and practice of religious belief and teachings. 

Also exempted are health practitioner services which are “clinically appropriate” and may include advice about the risks and impacts of gender transition treatments. 

“Everyone can support laws that genuinely aim to prohibit coercive actions that violate the dignity of the human person,” Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP said.

“Unfortunately, bans on so-called conversion practices can sometimes have the effect – intended or unintended – of outlawing religious teaching, prayer and practice or preventing people from seeking and obtaining the help they desire to live in accordance with their beliefs.” 

Sydney Archdiocese’s public affairs and engagement director Monica Doumit said religious exemptions in the bill were a qualified victory for common sense.

“While this bill has not addressed all concerns put forward by faith communities, it is a sincere attempt by the Minns Government to balance the interests and concerns of many parties and to meet the commitments to protect prayer and preaching made prior to last year’s election,” Ms Doumit said.

“I am heartened that ministries such as Courage seem to have received some protection from the grasp of this law, with the Attorney-General confirming that peer support groups that assist people living in accordance with religious beliefs or principles are not ‘conversion practices’.”


Religious exemptions to NSW conversion therapy ban a ‘sincere’ attempt to balance rights (By Marilyn Rodrigues, The Catholic Weekly)