Queensland Law Society

Health Legislation Amendment Bill 2019

Last week, QLS President Luke Murphy, Ken MacKenzie, Deputy Chair of the QLS Criminal Law Committee and Andrew Forbes, Deputy Chair of the Occupational Discipline Law Committee attended a parliamentary committee public hearing to discuss the Health Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 that seeks to prohibit the practice of ‘conversion therapy’ by health service providers in Queensland. QLS believes that conversion therapy is a reprehensible practice.

QLS strongly supports the policy intent behind the Bill, but raised some concerns regarding the creation of a criminal offence. QLS outlined that relevant health regulators or the Health Ombudsman may be better placed to ensure compliance in a health services context if there was a specific prohibition on conversion therapy under the Public Health Act 2005 as an alternative to achieving compliance through the criminal law. QLS also raised concerns about the drafting of some of the clauses in the Bill. In particular, QLS is concerned that the definition of ‘conversion therapy’, for the purposes of a proposed criminal offence, may be too broad.

For example, the definition could be interpreted to include legitimate health services such as counselling, resulting in unintended consequences affecting the provision of vital services. QLS is committed to continued engagement on this issue to ensure that the policy objectives of the Bill can be fulfilled, while also ensuring certainty in the law for health service providers.

You can read our entire submission here.