New Zealand this week is the latest nation to join a growing worldwide effort to legally eradicate conversion therapy. The government bill which was introduced in July last year was passed on Tuesday evening in almost complete agreeance by parliament, with 112 votes in favour and only 8 votes opposed.
Under the legislation, it is a criminal offense to perform conversion treatment on anyone under the age of 18 or with impaired decision-making capacity, and may be subject to a maximum sentence of 3 years’ imprisonment. It is also prohibited in situations where serious harm is caused to the victim, irrespective of age, and may be subject to a maximum sentence of up to 5 years’ imprisonment.
In implementing the ban on conversion therapy, NZ follows the likes of Germany, Canada, France, Ecuador, and Brazil, after the UN called in July 2020 for a global ban. In his statement, Minister of Justice Kris Faafoi declared, “Conversion practices have no place in modern New Zealand.”
“In banning conversion practices in New Zealand, we join other countries around the world in sending a clear message that all people, including young people, deserve to be protected, no matter their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.”
Conversion therapy is a scientifically discredited practice designed to convert a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, and gender expression through methods of psychological, behavioural, physical and faith-based interventions. Ranges in treatments [trigger warning] vary from religious counselling, hormonal and psychoactive medication, electroshock therapy to, in some places, even more unethical methods including force-feeding or food deprivation, ‘corrective’ violence including rape, as well as involuntary confinement.
According to reports, research has found that LGB people who experienced conversion therapy had “92 per cent greater odds of lifetime suicidal ideation, 75% greater odds of planning an attempt suicide and 88% greater odds of attempting suicide resulting in no or minor injury.”
Meanwhile in Australia, Victoria is the only state currently to pass a bill outlawing the harmful practice altogether. Anyone that attempts such conversion protocols will be liable to significant fines and jail time.
Queensland and ACT both have implemented similar laws which either only formally prevent the practice in healthcare settings but not on religious grounds, or focus primarily on changing rather than suppressing sexual orientation or gender identity.
Despite pressure of LGBTQ+ rights groups, conversion therapy still is present in NSW.
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Feature image courtesy of @sharonmccutcheon via Unsplash.
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