New Zealand bans conversion therapy with landslide vote

The bill was passed on Tuesday, February 15, with 112 votes in favour, and 8 votes against.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern marches in Auckland Pride as the country bans conversion therapy.
Image: Twitter: @LGBT_Lebanon

New Zealand has officially banned conversion therapy in the country, after the bill was passed by an overwhelming majority. Government officials voted on the legislative change, with 112 voting in favour, and 8 voting against.

The bill was originally introduced last year by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who was fulfilling an election promise she made during her second-term campaign. New Zealand government received nearly 107,000 public submissions with regards to the bill, which was the highest number of public submissions ever received on any legislation.

It will now be illegal to perform conversion therapy on anyone in New Zealand where the practices have caused “serious harm”, and offenders will face up to five years imprisonment. If the patient is under 18, or has impaired decision-making capabilities, it will be an automatic offence punishable by up to three years imprisonment.

The legislation also outlines what is not considered conversion therapy, protecting the right to opinions, beliefs, or principles which do not intend to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

Speaking on the landmark moment, Minister of Justice Kris Faafoi said, “This is a great day for New Zealand’s rainbow communities […] Conversion therapy has no place in modern New Zealand.”

New Zealand follows the likes of France and Canada who also banned the practice over the last three months, with the UK also working on a conversion therapy bill. Ireland has yet to criminalise the harmful service, but Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman, said in December 2021 that the Irish Government is committed to introducing a ban.

“The Programme for Government contains a commitment to legislate to end the practive of conversion therapy, an objective I strongly support,” he stated.

“I am pleased to say that my department is now commissioning research to capture the views and experiences of people who have been subjected to the practice of conversion therapy in Ireland. A Request for Quotation issued on 16 November 2021 and it is expected that the research will be commissioned and begin early in 2022.”

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