New Zealand has voted to protect LGBTQ youth from so-called “conversion therapy.”

In an almost unanimous vote, the New Zealand Parliament voted 112 to eight in favour of banning the controversial  practice. 

So-called “conversion therapy” is the discredited and dangerous practice that is intended to change, often by force, a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity and expression. 

According to Reuters, the Bill, which was introduced last year, received over 107,000 submissions – the most ever received on any legislation to date. 

‘A Win for Humanity’

The New Zealand Herald reported that it is now an offence to “perform conversion practices on a child or young person aged under 18, or on someone with impaired decision-making capacity. Such offences would be subject to up to three years’ imprisonment, and up to five years where it has caused serious harm, irrespective of age.”

Leader of End Conversion Therapy NZ Shaneel Lal tweeted, “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. A ban on conversion therapy is start to freeing queer people in New Zealand.”

Labour MP and Minister of Conservation Kiri Allan talked about her own experiences with “conversion therapy.” 

She tweeted, “It took a long time to shake that shame and trauma. Tonight our Parliament will ensure this practice is banned in our country for good. For our next generation of babies, I am so incredibly relieved. Thank you to everyone that championed this change.” 

A Promise Kept

At the passing of the legislation, Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson, who is gay, dedicated the moment to a friend who took their life.

He said, “To James and the many like him from all parts of rainbow community… this legislation is for you.

“We cannot bring you back, we cannot undo all the hurt, but we can make sure 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.”

Ending “conversion therapy” was a promise that New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern campaigned on.

In Australia, LGBTQ youth are protected from “conversion therapy” in Victoria, Queensland, and ACT.

According to a spokesperson for NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman, “The NSW Government will continue to monitor developments in other Australian jurisdictions as well as New Zealand. There are no present plans to legislate in this area.”

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