WELLINGTON, NZ — (02-15-22) — A victory for humanity is being celebrated in New Zealand tonight as the government bans the controversial Gay conversion therapy practice. The bill passed with a near unanimous vote, after all but eight National party members voted in favor of the law banning gay conversion therapy. Conversion “therapy” refers to the practice, often by religious groups, of being a “cure” for people who identify as members of the LGBTQI community.

NEW ZEALAND Bans Gay Conversion Therapy

The legislation, which was passed on Tuesday evening, makes it a crime to perform conversion practices on anyone 18 years old or under, or with impaired decision-making capacity, with a sentence of up to three years’ imprisonment. The law also makes it a crime to perform gay conversion practices that cause “serious harm”, irrespective of age. That carries a sentence of up to five years’ imprisonment.

The justice select committee received nearly 107,000 public submissions on the gay conversion ban law, the highest number of public submissions ever received on a piece of legislation in New Zealand.

Speaking to the house chamber, deputy prime minister Grant Robertson said the law would right some of the wrongs caused by conversion practices.

“I grew up in a religious churchgoing household in the era of homosexual law reform,” said Robertson. “When I finally gathered the courage to come out to my parents, I was met with love … but not everyone is or was so lucky.

“To all those who have been affected by conversion practices or attempts at them, we want to say, this legislation is for you. We cannot bring you back, we cannot undo all of the hurt, but we can make sure that for the generations to come, we provide the support and love you did not get and protect you from the harm of those who seek to try to stop you from being who you are.” said Robertson.

The founder of the Conversion Therapy Action Group, Shaneel Lal, said…“The ban on conversion therapy is a win for humanity, not just the queer community. Queer rights are human rights. Queer people do not need to be tolerated or accepted, we need to be liberated.” said Lal.

The UN independent expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity announced that they have discovered “Conversion practices caused “significant loss of self-esteem, anxiety, depressive syndrome, social isolation, intimacy difficulty, self-hatred, shame and guilt, sexual dysfunction, suicidal ideation and suicide attempts and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder”.

It should be noted that New Zealand has the highest youth suicide rate in the OECD. That ratae is alarmingly higher among LGBTQI+ youth. Research conducted since 2019 found 79% of trans and non-binary New Zealanders had seriously contemplated suicide and two-fifths had self-harmed over the past 12 months.

Article by: Paul Goldberg, Staff Writer

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