MS TIERNEY (Western Victoria—Minister for Training and Skills, Minister for Higher Education) (14:13): I am pleased to rise and speak on the Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill 2020. It is a bill that should remind us all of how what we do in this place can actually make a big difference to people’s lives. This bill prohibits the use of change or suppression practices in Victoria, which are often known as conversion therapy. These practices are aimed at making people alter or hide a fundamental part of who they are. Change and suppression practices are absolutely abhorrent. They are wrong. They have no place anywhere. And we will make sure that those practices end in Victoria by passing this bill.
In 2019 the Premier made a commitment to introduce new laws to outlaw change or suppression practices in Victoria. The announcement was fittingly made at the 2019 Pride March, an annual celebration of the LGBTIQ community here in Victoria. This commitment is an important part of the Andrews government’s commitment to ensure that Victoria is a state where equality is not negotiable. Let us be clear: stopping change or suppression practices is an important part of making our state a fairer state.
Since that announcement the Victorian government has undertaken extensive consultation, including with victims. Here we are today after all the work to develop a bill that gets the balance right.
I am proud to say I will be voting for this bill. For me, it is based on the simple principle of equality. All LBGTIQ Victorians deserve to be who they are. Nobody should have the right to try and change someone else from being themselves. I reiterate what my other colleagues have said: nobody is broken because of their sexuality or their gender identity, nobody should feel like they need to change who they are and nobody should feel unsafe living their life.
For those members of the LGBTIQ community watching this debate today, I say to you: you matter; you deserve to be proud to be you. Nobody should ever be able to take that away from you, and this bill will be a step forward to making sure that nobody can try and take that identity away.
On a personal note, I do wish to thank someone who is very close to me for sharing their life, their experiences and their journey with me in recent years. What they have taught me about the complexities of life and the various levels of discrimination has held me in good stead in understanding the practical and the emotional realities of the LGBTIQ community and in particular the trans community. I can say to you—and you know who I am speaking of—I adore your strength and I love your well-developed sense of self. I say to you: stay strong.
In concluding I say to all LGBTIQ Victorians: be very loud, be very proud and always be yourself. I will always stand with you as an ally, as family and as a member of Parliament. Victoria will be a better place by passing this legislation. This legislation will undoubtedly save lives. I commend this bill to the house.