Govt urged to move on banning conversion therapy; Collins labelled 'ignorant' for taking no position

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Wed, 3 Feb 2021, 6:00AM
Labour promised to ban the practice during the election campaign. (Photo / Getty)
Labour promised to ban the practice during the election campaign. (Photo / Getty)

Govt urged to move on banning conversion therapy; Collins labelled 'ignorant' for taking no position

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Wed, 3 Feb 2021, 6:00AM

The LGBT+ community will have to wait for legislation to ban conversion therapy to be introduced, with the Government confirming it isn’t coming just yet.

Meanwhile, the National Party leader has been labelled ignorant after offering no view on whether the practice should be banned.

Conversion therapy is the practice of attempting to change a person’s sexuality or gender identity using therapy, drugs, or other methods.

In October last year, Labour promised they would ban conversion therapy as a key part of the rainbow policy announcement before the election.

Five months later, the Government has yet to make a move on it – and won’t give any specifics on when a ban will be introduced.

No legislation on the matter is expected to be introduced next week when Parliament returns for the year.

A spokesperson for Justice Minister Kris Faafoi maintains there's work happening on the issue. They said there are complicated details and consultations to be thrashed out, with announcements to be made in due course.

The Green Party has also promised to ban the practice. The Greens Rainbow Communities spokesperson Elizabeth Kerekere said conversion therapy is a crime and it needs to start being treated like one.

Kerekere said she would like to see the Government continue to prioritise banning the practice, like they promised to do during their election campaign.

Asked about the matter yesterday, National Party leader Judith Collins said National doesn't have a position on conversion therapy.

But she admitted she hasn't done the research on the subject she committed to on the campaign trail last year.

When asked about the practice, Collins was indifferent.

"I don't know why anyone would want to do conversion therapy," she said.

Kerekere said she was shocked by Collins’ comment.

“Most people don’t have a choice when it comes to conversion therapy and most things in New Zealand where people don’t have a choice and harm is caused, there are normally laws against it”

Auckland Pride director Max Tweedie, who led a petition on banning conversion therapy in 2019, agrees that Collins had completely missed the point, describing her comment as “ignorant”.

“People who experience conversion therapy aren't making that choice for themselves, it’s being forced upon them, by family members, religions or organisations”.

Tweedie is calling on the Government to fast track the legislation.

He said the longer the practice goes on, the more vulnerable young people are subjected to the harm.

Currently, 20 states in the United States of America have outlawed the practice for minors, while Victoria is the only Australia state to have done so. The United Kingdom committed to banning conversion therapy in December 2020. 

Labour’s other commitments for the rainbow community includes injecting $4 million into rainbow mental health services, and it has promised to review the Human Rights Act to explicitly prohibit discrimination on grounds of gender identity.

Other proposals included reviewing adoption and surrogacy policies and making healthcare responsive to gender diverse people.

text by Aaron Dahmen and Courtney Winter