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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2020 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 27 August 2020) . . Page.. 2222 ..

MR RAMSAY (Ginninderra—Attorney-General, Minister for the Arts and Cultural Events, Minister for Building Quality Improvement, Minister for Business and Regulatory Services and Minister for Seniors and Veterans) (12.04): Noting that this is drawing to a close substantial reforms in the residential tenancies work over the course of this government, I want to place on record again my thanks to the many people who have worked on this, including our wonderful team in our Justice and Community Safety Directorate, who have been working extremely hard on this for many years, bringing excellent expertise to this, and also to the many people across the community sector, the housing providers, who have contributed so positively. We know that we now have more effective and fair residential tenancies legislation because of that work.

Title agreed to.

Bill, as amended, agreed to.

Sexuality and Gender Identity Conversion Practices Bill 2020

Debate resumed from13 August 2020, on motion by Mr Barr and Mr Rattenbury:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR COE (Yerrabi—Leader of the Opposition) (12.05): Harmful conversion practices are abhorrent and are opposed by me personally and every Liberal member in this chamber. Some terrible things have been done to people under the banner of conversion therapy. Such practices are wrong, and these harmful practices we condemn without hesitation. This bill from the ACT government extends much further than these practices, much further than the practices that Mr Barr and Mr Rattenbury have said it was intended to address.

These were concerns expressed by the ACT Law Society as recently as yesterday. They said this bill’s definition about sexuality or gender identity conversation practice is simply too broad and vague to be a proper basis for a criminal offence. This definition means that anyone who does these things will have committed a criminal offence and face criminal charges. This includes a $24,000 fine and/or up to 12 months in prison. They can also be sued for unlimited damages—that is, kids could sue their parents, with unlimited damages.

The lack of clarity has serious consequences. It risks criminalising ordinary Canberrans who act with love and compassion. The government says this legislation is about criminalising abhorrent behaviour. We support criminalising abhorrent behaviour. The Australian Medical Association ACT President, Dr Antonio Di Dio, was reported in the Canberra Times on Saturday as saying that, despite the best intentions of all concerned, we will not know how successful this balancing act has been until the new law is tested in operation. In other words, until someone is charged with these offences, it is difficult to know how this law will be interpreted in the courts. This could well be a teacher or a parent.

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