In Parliament

Second Reading Speech - Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill 2020


Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill 2020.

Thursday, 10 December 2020.

Mr NEWBURY (Brighton) (15:20):

I rise to make a brief contribution on the Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill 2020.

I want to start by saying directly to my community that I will stand up for your equality, even when it is difficult. When you strip away this Bill to its core purpose, that is what this Bill is about—extending the principle of equality.

Victoria expects equality of all our people, including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, gender-diverse, intersex, queer, asexual and questioning.

This bill mandates that equality in law again. That is important because we must never forget that the LGBTIQ community has suffered historical discrimination, discrimination at law and daily discrimination through social norms.

That discrimination ensured not only lesser rights but lesser treatment through shunning and through shaming. Sadly, discrimination based on sexuality is still a real part of the lives of the LGBTI community.

This Bill in principle seeks to address that. Put simply, the Bill will make it unlawful to terrorise a person because of their sexuality. This Bill will make it clear that our community does not condone using fear to repress a person’s true self.

There should be no debate on whether a person should be judged based on who they love—no debate. I did not enter this place to oppose those principles in this Bill. And frankly my community should not forgive me if I opposed those principles.

In truth, these principles are at the core of what my party, the Liberal Party, stands for: deference to the individual over the collective and an unwavering commitment to an individual’s rights and freedoms. It is because of those principles that I am on my feet today—because I want my community to know that I have an unwavering commitment to them and to their equality, regardless of their defining characteristics, be it gender, race, religion or sexuality.

There are some who are concerned that the Labor Party has politicised the Bill by including other subject matter and that the bill is poorly drafted. Those two assessments are right. But when considering the Bill in totality, we must weigh up whether those issues outweigh the principle and purpose. My community is contemporary, and it is modern. My community would expect the Opposition to set out our concerns about the bill, which we have done, but my community would also expect me to recognise that the principle of equality outweighs those concerns and to ensure that the group of people in our community who suffer discrimination daily are provided protections at law.

I say to the religious community, as a person who has faith: I have profound respect for your place in our society. We in this chamber have all seen the transformative good and comfort that the faith community provides both through public works and programs and pastorally in private. I will always be a voice for the good work of our faith community and stand with you as you perform your good deeds.

At its core religion is about love—a love for your God, however you describe that God, and God’s love for all things, a love that does not discriminate. God’s love, like our love for our neighbour, is not conditional. My God would not tolerate his name being used to repress a person’s true self, nor should this Parliament.

You cannot pray gay away. Every individual must be supported in being who they are without question and without reservation. And though it has been argued that the law should accept the freedom to be a bigot, the law must never allow the freedom to discriminate or the freedom to coerce.

Again, I say to my community: I stand here today for your equality, and I always will.