Vic inquiry into 'gay conversion therapy'

Georgie Moore

Victorian practitioners of so-called "gay conversion therapy" could face prosecution following a state government-ordered inquiry.

Health Minister Jill Hennessy has formally asked the Health Complaints Commissioner to investigate the "highly damaging" and "abhorrent" practice that purports to 'cure' homosexuality.

"I have received correspondence from a victim of the practices of so-called 'gay conversion therapy' and 'ex-gay ideology'," the minister wrote in a letter to the commissioner, released on Thursday.

"Victims of the practice have displayed poor mental and physical health outcomes. Some have tragically lost their lives to suicide."

The Health Complaints Commissioner has powers to investigate and prosecute.

"Victorians who have been harmed through these rogue groups should contact the Commissioner immediately so these unlawful practices can be stopped and practitioners prosecuted," Ms Hennessy said in a statement.

The inquiry was triggered just weeks after Victorian Liberals president Michael Kroger had to intervene to stop a motion on gay conversion therapy at the party's state council meeting.

The inquiry also comes after an online university survey found the majority of young LGBTI people fear being discriminated against if they report hate crimes to Victoria Police.

The La Trobe University poll of 76 people, aged 16 to 25, found fewer than half "agreed" or "strongly agreed" they could trust police.

More than 360 officers were also surveyed and the majority reported the LGBTI people they spoke to seemed to fear being outed or discriminated against.

In a statement, Victoria Police said it had been working to improve its relationship with the LGBTI community.

"We know that for young people, being recognised, acknowledged and valued for who they are is vital to their sense of self-worth and contributes to their willingness to engage with police," Priority Communities Division Commander Stuart Bateson said.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.