“Conversion therapy”, as defined by the World Health Organization, is “a psychological treatment or therapeutic technique whose goal is to change sexual orientation from LGBTQ to straight.”
When New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was elected for a second term last year, one of her campaign promises was to end those therapies in her country.
To protect LGBTQ+ people, New Zealand has taken a step in the right direction earlier this month with the introduction of a bill that would ban “conversion therapies.” The first law of this kind for New Zealand.
So how New Zealand is set to ban these "conversion" practices?
The Parliament has introduced legislation that proposes up to 3 years in prison for anyone who practices “conversion therapy” and try to "change" the sexual orientation or gender identity of a minors or someone with impaired decision-making capacity.
In the case of conversion practices that cause serious harm, up to five years imprisonment would be allowed.
Justice Minister Kris Faafoi
“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,” Justice Minister Kris Faafoi said in a statement.
“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,” he added.
It’s important to note that the new bill does not restrict speech or expression of a person’s religious beliefs; it only prohibits “conversion therapies”.
How this practice has been shown to have negative effects
“Conversion therapy” has been shown to have negative effects on mental health, self-esteem, and creates dangerous social stigmas that are damaging. It has been proven to increase internalized homophobia, create anxiety, depression, and, in some cases, suicide.
A list of countries and states that recently banned “conversion therapy”
Around the world
"Conversion therapy" has been banned in many places around the world. Several countries have completely banned it, including Albania, Germany, India, Malta, Ecuador, Brazil, Puerto Rico, and Taiwan.
In the United States
In the United States, a growing number of states are deciding to ban “conversion therapy”; and many others have already taken action by not using state funds for such practices.
21 U.S. States prohibit “conversion therapy” (California, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, ...) while three other states (North Carolina, Michigan, Wisconsin) take their own measures in preventing it from happening with any funding at all.
In the absence of a state ban, many municipalities have taken it upon themselves to prohibit “conversion therapy”. In Florida alone, for example, the cities of Miami, Key West, Tampa, and many others now prohibit “conversion therapies” aimed at LGBTQ persons.
New Zealand has taken a step in the right direction. This legislation is an important milestone towards protecting LGBTQ+ people from any harm or abuse we may otherwise experience in New Zealand.
Now, there is nothing left to do but wait until Kiwi lawmakers decide whether they’ll put their stamp of approval on this historic piece of legislation.