New Zealand votes to ban gay conversion therapy and imposes a five-year prison sentence

New Zealand votes to ban gay conversion therapy and imposes a five-year prison sentence

New Zealand has passed a law banning the brutal conversion therapy process that forces gay men to be straight.

The bill to ban conversion practices, which was introduced last year, was passed on Tuesday in Wellington after a third and final reading following the support of 112 MPs in Parliament.

Only eight national MPs opposed the bill, and it received almost 107,000 public submissions, making it the highest number of public submissions ever received for any bill.

Justice Minister Chris Faafoy said: “This is a great day for New Zealand’s rainbow communities.”

Under the bill, it would be an offense to perform medically illegal conversion practices on a child or young person under the age of 18 or a person with limited decision-making ability.

Such offenses are punishable by imprisonment for up to three years and up to five years if they caused serious harm, regardless of the age of the person.

The bill to ban the conversion practice, which was introduced last year, was passed on Tuesday after its third and final reading after it was supported by 112 MPs in parliament.  Pictured: Parliament House in Wellington.

The bill to ban the conversion practice, which was introduced last year, was passed on Tuesday after its third and final reading after it was supported by 112 MPs in parliament. Pictured: Parliament House in Wellington.

Only eight national MPs opposed the bill and it received almost 107,000 public submissions, making it the highest number of public submissions ever received for any legislation (file image)

Only eight national MPs opposed the bill and it received almost 107,000 public submissions, making it the highest number of public submissions ever received for any legislation (file image)

Under the bill, it would be an offense to perform medically illegal conversion practices on a child or young person under the age of 18, or someone with a decision-making disability (file image).

Under the bill, it would be an offense to perform medically illegal conversion practices on a child or young person under the age of 18, or someone with a decision-making disability (file image).

During the third reading, Vice Premier Grant Robertson delivered an emotional speech about growing up in a “church family.”

He said, “When I finally worked up the courage to confess to my parents, I was greeted with love.”

But he went on to talk about those most vulnerable in society and remembered a friend he named James, who ended up taking his own life because he was met with “anger, rejection and ridicule.”

He added: “In any law there must be access to justice and appropriate penalties, but I believe that the special committee strikes a balance here.

“For James and many like him from all parts of the rainbow community, this law is for you.”

Such offenses carry a prison sentence of up to three years and up to five years if they caused serious harm, regardless of the person's age (file image)

Such offenses carry a prison sentence of up to three years and up to five years if they caused serious harm, regardless of the person’s age (file image)

During the third reading, Vice Premier Grant Robertson (pictured) gave an emotional speech about growing up in a

During the third reading, Vice Premier Grant Robertson (pictured) gave an emotional speech about growing up in a “church family.”

“We can’t bring you back, we can’t fix all the pain, but we can be sure that for future generations we will provide the support and love you didn’t receive and protect you from the harm of those who try to stop you from being the one who you are. I will never forget you.’

Conversion therapy has been banned in Queensland, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory, and other countries are seeking to change their laws to ban the archaic practice.

Labor MP Kiri Allan posted on Facebook this morning about how she underwent conversion therapy at the age of 16 at her church.

She wrote: “At 16, I had conversion therapy (it wasn’t called that, but it was) through my church.

Labor MP and Conservation Minister Kiri Allan (centre) with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (left) and Governor General Dame Patsy Reddy (right)

Labor MP and Conservation Minister Kiri Allan (centre) with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (left) and Governor General Dame Patsy Reddy (right)

“I was desperately trying to “pray for the gay” – to be accepted by my family, society and church. My “sickness” and “weakness” to temptations was imprinted like sin on my skin.

“It took a long time to shake off that shame and trauma. Tonight, our parliament will ensure that this practice is forever banned in our country. For our next generation of kids, I am so incredibly relieved. Thanks to everyone who championed this change.”

In October 2020, Jacinda Ardern’s Labor Party committed to ban conversion therapy for gay men if they are re-elected in New Zealand elections on 17 October.

In an interview with Express magazine, the 41-year-old Labor leader said she decided to speak out against the practice after watching a film by Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

“I still remember watching The Last Days at the Wellington Film Festival a few years ago. This film never left me,” she said.

“That’s one of the reasons I feel pretty strongly about this policy.”

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