On Friday, July 30th, New Zealand’s ruling party introduced a bill that would make conversion therapy (the process of trying to change one’s sexual orientation because it’s believed to be “wrong”) illegal. The nation is going a step further and is even aiming to make the practice punishable by up to five years in prison.
According to The Washington Post, Kris Faafoi, New Zealand’s justice minister, stated, “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.”
The move also aligns with the beliefs of the country’s much-loved Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, who is a fierce and loyal advocate of diversity and ally to the LGBTQ community.
Banning conversion therapy isn’t a partisan issue either. In fact, doctors, religious leaders, and activists from around the world all agree that the practice doesn’t work and is extremely dangerous to the mental health of those who partake in it. In fact, the HRC has compiled a list of dozens of organizations that refute the validity of conversion therapy, including the American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, National Association of Social Workers, and many more.
Even Kenneth Zucker, the academic scholar who wrote the study defending conversion therapy, has come out and rescinded his findings, admitting that the trials were biased and a lack of vetting went into the study.
If the bill is passed, New Zealand will join a handful of other countries that have banned conversion therapy, including Malta, Brazil, Taiwan, Ecuador, and Germany. On top of that, countries like the USA and Australia have certain cities, states, and territories with bans on conversion therapy. The UK has also announced that it will begin looking into ways to ban conversion therapy.