Lawmakers in New Zealand have passed a bill banning conversion therapy in a near-unanimous vote. This dangerous and discredited practice seeks to suppress or change a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. The bill was first introduced last summer and was passed by a vote of 112 to 8 in a legislative session on Tuesday, February 15th. The bill says it aims to recognize and prevent harm caused by conversion practices and promote respectful and open discussions around sexuality and gender.
The new law makes it a civil offence to perform conversion therapy on anyone younger than 18 or lacks decision-making capacity, punishable by up to three years in prison. Anyone who conducts a practice that ’causes serious harm to the individual’ — regardless of age — could face up to five years.
“Conversion practices are based on the false idea that people are wrong or broken because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Such practices and ideas have no place in a modern, inclusive country like Aotearoa,” said the center-left Labor Party, using the Māori name for New Zealand. The Labor Party made banning the practice a 2020 campaign promise and has fulfilled it in 2022.