NEW Victorian laws banning LGBTIQ conversion practices have been met with hope and optimism.
Central Victorian gay trans man Ben MacEllen hoped the legislation, which passed parliament on Thursday, would mean an end to some of the scary and traumatic experiences LGBTIQ people had endured.
"To make this a legal issue, a matter of state law, gives some hope to young people and the LGBTIQ community that they're protected," Mr MacEllen said.
"I hope it goes some way towards the healing, too, for people who have gone through aversion therapy and conversion therapy in the past."
He said conversion practices had caused longstanding hurt and trauma in the LGBTIQ community.
While he had not personally been subjected to such "therapies", Mr MacEllen knew of people who had.
"I'm absolutely thrilled this [bill] has gone through," he said.
Having passed both houses of Victorian Parliament, the Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill will go to the Governor for royal assent.
Sherene Clow, the LGBTIQA+ community engagement officer at Castlemaine's CHIRP Community Health, said it was concerning that nine people voted against the bill in the Legislative Council.
"It's a no-brainer that people should be able to be who they are," Ms Clow said.
She likened conversion practices to brainwashing and said it was an "absolute relief" the bill had passed.
"My hope is for a future where people aren't subjected to these sort of practices," Ms Clow said.
She hoped people would not only be able to be themselves, but be able to practice their religious beliefs.
Faith leaders were among those who raised concerns the legislation might have unintended effects on ordinary religious activity.
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Bishop Shane Mackinlay, of the Catholic Diocese of Sandhurst, which covers the north-east and central regions of Victoria, was among the Muslim and Catholic leaders that expressed "profound concern" about the laws in an open letter to the Premier late last month.
Bishop Mackinlay said concerns the laws would criminalise conversations still stood, and requests to meet with the government had gone unanswered.
He noted concerns raised by the Law Institute of Victoria and the Victorian branches of the Australian Medical Association and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists.
Ms Clow welcomed increased protections for intersex people in the new laws.
The Equal Opportunity Act will be updated to protect people from discrimination based on their sex characteristics.
Ms Clow backed calls for a ban on LGBTIQ conversion practices at a federal level - something for which central Victorian community leaders have been advocating for some time.
She encouraged anyone experiencing distress related to conversion practices to reach out to support agencies.
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- with Australian Associated Press