Searching the reins and hearts: conversion practices reforms in Australia

Martin Clark, Brendan Gogarty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Conversion practices seek to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. There is no scientific evidence to support the efficacy of these practices, and considerable evidence that they can cause serious physical, mental and social harm. Despite this, conversion practices have taken and continue to take place across Australia. Recently, Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory and Victoria statutorily proscribed conversion practices, and almost all other States and Territories have committed to reforming their laws. This article analyses recent and proposed law reform models, and considers the best-practice regulatory approach to reducing the incidence of conversion practices and their risks to individuals and the community. We argue for a dual, non-carceral approach that targets conversion practices as a form of pseudo-medical malpractice under existing healthcare laws, and the promotion of the beliefs underlying the practices as a form of discriminatory incitement under anti-discrimination or human rights laws.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-37
Number of pages33
JournalUniversity of New South Wales Law Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024


  • law reform
  • conversion practices
  • Human Rights

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