Social Issues

New Zealand pushes law to ban sexual orientation conversion therapies

Sydney, Australia, Jul 30 (EFE).- New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern presented a bill Friday to ban conversion therapies that try to change or suppress sexual orientation and imposing penalties of up to five years in prison for infringements.

““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,” New Zealand Justice Minister Kris Faafoi said in a statement.

The draft Law for the Prohibition of Conversion Practices before parliament, in which Ardern’s Labor Party has a majority, applies penalties of up to three years in prison if this type of therapy is applied to minors or people incapable of making decisions.

On the criminal level, the project also proposes to punish with a penalty of up to five years in prison if conversion therapy causes serious harm to the person, whatever their age, and to open a civil avenue for the aggrieved to be compensated.

These types of therapies – which have caused their victims mental health problems, depression, shame and stigma, and even suicidal wishes – have the “potential to perpetuate prejudice, discrimination and abuse towards members of rainbow communities,” Faafoi said.

Trinity Thompson-Browne, a non-binary person who was subjected to these practices, told Radio New Zealand that the measure should include victims who suffer similar trauma after decades of conversion therapy.

“You cannot legislate to prevent and not account for the years that this has had to go unchecked behind the scenes,” said Trinity, who receives government-funded treatment “to understand and dismantle” their experiences “of disempowerment and self-loathing within the context of the church.”

According to a study carried out by the University of Waikato in New Zealand in 2018, one in six transsexual or non-binary people said a psychologist or religious counselor tried to change their sexual identity.

In neighboring Australia, there are growing calls for sexual conversion therapies – which the UN considers as a form of torture against the LGTBIQ community – to be banned throughout the country, after Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory outlawed them in 2020. EFE


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