Politics

The Victorian Liberals Are About To Consider Supporting A Bunch Of Anti-Transgender Motions

Conversion therapy is off the agenda for now, but there's still a bunch of worrying stuff up for debate.

victoria liberals

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The Victorian branch of the Liberal Party will consider supporting a number of anti-transgender motions at its upcoming state council at the end of the month, including a push to ban schools from even mentioning the existence of trans people.

Over the weekend, some more progressive members of the Liberal party including gay federal MP Trent Zimmerman slammed a number of “out of touch” motions proposed for debate at the conference. This morning Victorian Liberal Party president Michael Kroger took action to have a motion in support of conversion therapy, and a proposal to remove sexual orientation from the Sex Discrimination Act removed from the agenda.

Conversion therapy, which aims to counsel an individual out of identifying as LGBTQ, has been demonstrated to be extraordinarily harmful, especially for minors, and states around the world having been making moves to restrict access to it. The proposed changes to the Sex Discrimination Act, meanwhile, would make it easier to legally discriminate against LGBTQ people.

While these two motions are no longer up for debate, leaked copies of the conference agenda suggest that a number of similarly harmful anti-transgender motions will still be discussed by the party on April 28-29.

Two motions on the agenda propose banning the Safe Schools program in Victoria, which is designed to protect LGBTIQ+ students from harassment by providing free resources to educate teachers and students about sexual orientation and gender. The federal government announced it would cut funding for the program in 2016, but the Victorian Labor government has pledged to continue funding it.

One of these motions, submitted by the party’s Hotham branch, proposes that “resources that teach children that a person’s gender may be different to their biological sex and that people can transition” should be banned from schools, and that sex education should be available only when a child’s parents have signed a form consenting to that specific material being taught. Both proposals are likely to isolate queer children and teens and make it difficult for them to access what is often life-saving information.

Another motion from the Croydon South branch proposes that the government take further steps to protect religious freedom, in particular regarding individuals’ rights to express their beliefs about same-sex marriage, the rights of celebrants “in relation to the conduct of ceremonies”, and the rights of parents in relation to the education of their children. “We are concerned at the development of anti-discrimination laws that place other interests above those of religious belief,” the motion notes.

The agenda also contains a number of other controversial proposals, including one pushing for the federal government to vote in favour of Israel in United Nations votes concerning Jerusalem, which Australia currently abstains from voting on. Another agenda item proposes that Australia introduce the Nordic model of criminalising sex work by punishing customers rather than sex workers. Sex workers in countries that have implemented this model have slammed it, reporting that it made their work more dangerous.

Other controversial motions included supporting harsher drug laws “prioritising crime prevention over harm minimisation”, reducing immigration, and proposals to raise taxes for trade unions.

The Victorian Liberals did not respond to Junkee’s requests for comment to confirm that these motions remain on the agenda. However, the branches of the party that proposed these motions were not the two branches Kroger told The Age he had contacted regarding inappropriate motions.

The motions that remain on the agenda will be debated by the Victorian Liberals at their state council at the end of the month. While many of the motions require that the Liberals are elected to government in Victoria before they can be implemented, the state branch also has the ability to lobby the federal government to implement some of the nationwide proposals.