The select committee was responding to two petitions calling for the discredited practice to be banned.

The Justice Committee of New Zealand has responded to two petitions, signed by over 20,000 people, that called for the discredited practice of gay ‘conversion’ therapy to be banned in the country.

The so-called therapy, which has been discredited by the NHS and the World Psychiatric Association, refers to any attempt at changing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, and often involves techniques like electroshock therapy or prayer.

The decision from the select committee noted that the practice was harmful, but the committee wanted “more information” before they recommend banning it. They also said it was unethical for counselors to recommend it, and there was “anecdotal evidence” that the practice took place in New Zealand.

In their report, members of the committee said: “In particular, thought must be given to how to define conversion therapy, who the ban would apply to, and how to ensure that right relating to freedom of expression and religion were maintained.”

Speaking to 1 News Now, Mark Tweedie, from the group Conversion Therapy Action Group, said he was disappointed with the committee’s report and their reliance on religious freedoms.

“I find the Committee’s report even more disappointing because they acknowledge the widespread harm conversion therapy causes, but still fall short of recommending a ban,” he said.

“Our religious freedoms, freedom of expressions are not absolute. They are subjected to limits as set out in the Human Rights Act and Bill of Rights Act, and are designed as such to prevent these freedoms from causing harm, particularly in relation to more vulnerable communities.”

As the petitions were being signed, Jan Logie, an MP for the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand, said: “They say to people they can pray or talk or shock the gay, the trans, the lesbian away and that is just wrong. There is no need to suppress or deny our diversity.”

She also called the practice the “ultimate form of victim blaming.”