Mr BARTON (Eastern Metropolitan) (17:01): I too rise to speak on the Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill 2020. Just prior to Christmas a colleague and friend, while we were out having a drink, asked me my opinion on this conversion bill. I was a little shocked that they felt they needed to ask. I think I am an open book. I do wear my heart on my sleeve, and it is no secret that I have come to this place to give a voice to people who are in the minority, who are vulnerable and who have been treated unfairly. My voting record speaks for my support for the LGBTQ community.
One of the saddest parts about this reform is the amount of misinformation, exaggeration and the fearmongering that has been caused. This is worse than when we did the birth certificate reforms, which we passed in this place in 2019. It caused much concern and debate then; however the sky did not come falling down. This bill also has caused much concern and debate, and the sky will not come tumbling down. This is to protect against those individuals who can cause harm to vulnerable people. This is not an attack on a church. This is not an attack on people of faith or their freedom of religion. This is not an attack on freedom of speech. This bill does not restrict parenting. This bill will save lives.
There is much debate about this bill. Unfortunately misinformation, the overreach of those opposed to this bill, has actually harmed their argument. During the birth certificate reforms I had the extreme pleasure to meet a family who shared with me their story of their teenage daughter, Alexia. I reflected deeply with my deliberations around this bill, and that family was at the forefront of my thoughts. Alexia was fortunate enough to have a loving, supporting and caring family. Unfortunately not everyone in her position has this.
This conversion therapy is around us. In my office I have a member of my team whose uncle experienced this. This bill is not getting written in stone, and many people in the LGBTQ community—this is a journey, this is a stepping stone and I am proud to be here today.
I just want to say to those on the journey, to the gorgeous Alexia and to other families like them: this one is for you. I commend this bill to the house.