Conversion Therapy (Reparative Therapy)

Closing Date

31st October 2019

The Research Project

The Tasmania Law Reform Institute in the Law Faculty has accepted a reference from the LGBTIQ community to undertake a reference on conversion therapy (also known as ‘reparative’ or ‘ex-gay’ therapy).

The practice has been described by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights as “unethical, unscientific and ineffective, and may be tantamount to torture”. In March 2018, Fairfax Media revealed that conversion practices remain prevalent in Australia, hidden in clinical settings, faith-based counselling, and online courses.¹ The practice continues to be undertaken surreptitiously in Tasmania, highlighting the need for a legal response.

This project proposes to examine existing laws in Tasmania and elsewhere to determine what legislative measures can be implemented to prevent conversion therapy from being conducted in Tasmania, particularly in relation to minors. In order to understand the prevalence of conversion therapy in Tasmania, the harm caused by the practice, and potential reforms, the project will involve extensive consultation with the medical profession, medical and psychology organisations, faith groups, and the Tasmanian community, with a focus on the LGBTIQ community. Expected outputs include:

Scoping study

The Institute invites a LLM student to conduct a study, under supervision of the Director of the Institute. The study will outline:

  • The extent to which conversion therapy continues to be practised in Tasmania
  • Literature regarding the impact on mental health of conversion therapy
  • Existing legal regulation of the practice of conversion therapy, including the regulation of the provision of purported health and counselling services
  • Analysis of initiatives to prevent or regulate the practice of conversion therapy, including in the USA, Europe, recent reforms in Victoria and calls by the Queensland and ACT Health Ministers for a national approach to ban the practice.²

Thesis

This work can be used as the basis of the community consultation a Final Report for the Government and/or as the basis for an LLM Thesis.

¹ Tomazin, F. 9 March 2018. “I am profoundly unsettled': inside the hidden world of gay conversion therapy”. Sydney Morning Herald https://www.smh.com.au/national/i-am-profoundly-unsettled-inside-the-hidden-world-of-gay-conversiontherapy-20180227-p4z1xn.html
² See, for example, Preventing Harm, Promoting Justice: Responding to LGBT conversion therapy in Australia. This report on the Victorian experience will provide important background for the Tasmanian project.

Eligibility

The following eligibility criteria apply to this scholarship:

  • The scholarship is open to domestic (Australian and New Zealand) and international candidates;
  • The degree must be undertaken on a full-time basis;
  • Applicants must already have been awarded a First Class Honours degree or hold equivalent qualifications or relevant and substantial research experience in an appropriate sector;
  • Applicants must be able to demonstrate strong research and analytical skills.

Candidates from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds are encouraged to apply.  Knowledge and skills that will be ranked highly include:

  • Legal service delivery

Qualitative research methods, particularly in depth interviewing and community engagement

Application Process

Applicants who require more information or are interested in this specific project should first contact the listed Supervisor.

Information and guidance on the application process can be found on the Apply Now website.

Information about scholarships is available on the Scholarships webpage.

More Information

Please contact Associate Professor Terese Henning for more information.