New Zealand commits to introducing laws to ban conversion therapy

New Zealand has committed to bringing in legislation that will outlaw conversion therapy and other practices that aim to suppress a person’s sexuality or gender identity.

Prime Minister Jacinta Ardern had previously voiced a commitment to brining in the laws, but now the government has set a timeline for bringing in the legislation.

The Greens party, who had grown frustrated with the Labour government’s lack of action, launched a petition to show how much support their was for the legislative change, After it received over 157,000 signatures, and the National party also gave support, the government made a firm commitment.

On Monday Justice Minister Kris Faafoi (pictured) said the government would have the laws in place with a year, setting a deadline of 22nd February 2022. Faffoi said the legislation was being developed and he hoped it would be introduced by the middle of the year.

“There is no therapeutic purpose or medical basis for these conversion practices, which can cause real and lasting damage, particularly for vulnerable young people who are often the victims of these practices,” Faafoi said.

The proposed law will create a new criminal and/or civil offence to prohibit conversion practices, the minister said.

“That work requires considering issues like how to define ‘conversion practices’, how legal protections would work and for whom, and whether conversion practices should be regulated by civil law in additional to criminal law, where civil penalties might be more appropriate than criminal liability.”

The call for the laws to be changed came after a 2018 New Zealand television show exposed that there were organisations offering to “cure” people of homosexuality and being transgender.

The Greens welcomed the new development with the party’s Rainbow spokesperson Elizabeth Kerekere saying the timeline would allow survivors of conversion therapies to share their stories.

“For the Green Party, and the affected communities, the focus will now be to ensure the Bill is robust and protects all of us. That means no religious exemptions, because we know the vast majority of these practices happen in churches and other religious settings,” Kerekere said.

“We’ll be pushing to ensure the full Rainbow community is included. It must be illegal to practice conversion therapy on anyone who is trans, intersex or non-binary as well as gay, lesbian or bisexual. We must end conversion therapy for all rainbow communities.”

On Tuesday survivors gathered outside the New Zealand parliament and pleaded with law makers to deliver a robust bill that covered all scenarios where the practice occurs. They expressed concern that the bill would not include religious organisations.

OIP Staff

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