In a win for LGBTQ+ rights, New Zealand has introduced a bill outlawing conversion therapy.
Under the new legislation, people who perform the harmful practice on a person younger than 18 can face up to five years in prison.
Conversion therapy refers to any attempt at changing a person’s sexuality or gender identity, and often involves techniques such as electroshock therapy or prayer.
The government introduced the legislation on Friday (30 July).
Justice Minister Kris Faafoi opened up about the importance of the bill in a statement to Reuters.
“Conversion practices have no place in modern New Zealand. They are based on the false belief that any person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression is broken and in need of fixing,” Faafoi said.
“Health professionals, religious leaders and human rights advocates here and overseas have spoken out against these practices as harmful and having the potential to perpetuate prejudice, discrimination and abuse towards members of rainbow communities.”
After the bill was announced, the Green Party New Zealand praised the government and their step towards banning conversion therapy.
Together, we did it! Our Rainbow whānau told the Government that conversion therapy is a crime, and needs to be treated as such, and the Government has listened. pic.twitter.com/r39SRmmqqr
— Green Party NZ (@NZGreens) July 30, 2021
The new bill follows comments from Faaioi earlier this year when he and the leading labour government announced plans to ban the inhuman act.
“The Government has work underway to develop policy which will bring legislation to Parliament by the middle of this year and with the aim of having a ban passed into law by the end of this year, or by February 2022 – at the latest,” he exclaimed.
“We know this is an important issue, which is why we made the Manifesto commitment before last year’s Election.”
If passed, New Zealand will join the growing list of countries that have banned conversion therapy.
At the end of June, Canada’s House of Commons passed a historic bill criminalising the practice.
The bill is currently on hold in the Senate and will be voted on in September.
In July, Minnesota became the 21st state in the U.S. that has banned the problematic procedure.
Queen Elizabeth II has also announced plans for the UK government to enact a law that will illegalise the terrible practice.
“Measures will be brought forward to address racial and ethnic disparities and ban conversion therapy,” said the Queen.