Youth MP continues call for ban on conversion therapy, says it's 'state-sanctioned torture'

Source: 1News

“We are not broken, and we do not need to be fixed.”

Those were the words of Youth MP Shaneel Lal when he addressed Parliament a little over a year ago, in a bid to have conversion therapy banned in New Zealand.

To this day the controversial practice, in which practitoners attempt to change a person's sexual orientation, is still legal in New Zealand. The Select Committee has responded to two petitions to ban it, saying that while it agrees conversion therapy is harmful, it needs to gather more information before banning it.

This morning Mr Lal told TVNZ1’s Breakfast that he thinks New Zealand has “become complacent” considering it has seen the introduction of the homosexual reform and the marriage equality acts - but won't ban conversion therapy. 

“Suddenly we do not care enough. But we have also got lots of push back from faith-based group who believe that it is their religious right to practise this.

“There has been progress but it is where I expected progress to be,” says Mr Lal.

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Mr Lal, who has been put through conversion therapy himself, says religious groups in New Zealand are the "biggest breeding ground" for the practice.

"There are numerous stories of young people who say they pray to God to heal them, or kill them," he says.

"As someone who has experienced conversion therapy I know that it doesn’t work and I know that it is detrimental to people’s wellbeing."

Though he says people should have the right to practise their religion, he says "religious rights are not absolute".

"It does not mean that they get to persecute others."

Now, Mr Lal is again urging the Government to ban the practice which he has deemed "state-sanctioned torture".

"As politicians it is their duty to alleviate the collective suffering of their people. And by keeping this practice legal, they’re keeping torture legal.

"Things have changed and so should we."