Labour promise to ban conversion therapy, review adoption laws if re-elected

Anna Whyte
Source: 1News

Labour is committing to ban conversion therapy, should it be re-elected. 

Labour rainbow spokesperson Tāmati Coffey said conversion therapy "is based on the misguided idea that people are wrong or broken because of their sexual orientation or gender identity".

"We will pass a law to ban the harmful practice of conversion therapy."

"This is fundamentally wrong."

The controversial practice, in which practitioners attempt to change a person's sexual orientation, is legal in New Zealand, 

"It is a practice that causes harm and is out of place in the kind, inclusive and modern country we are," Coffey said. 

The party also promised to review adoption and surrogacy policies "with a view to removing discriminatory practices".

Last year, a group presented a petition to Parliament with over 30,000 signatures saying New Zealand's 64-year-old adoption and surrogacy laws are complicated, expensive and convoluted.

"I know from my own experience where my partner and I had to formally adopt our own biological son that we need to modernise the law," Coffey said. 

"Labour has committed to reviewing adoption and surrogacy policies and legislation with a view to removing discriminatory practices."

Labour also is promising $4 million over four years for existing Rainbow youth mental health services, work with schools to provide gender neutral bathrooms, and ensure healthcare is "responsive to the needs of trans, intersex and gender diverse people ". 

Numbers from TVNZ’s Vote Compass tool reveal the majority of New Zealanders want to see conversion therapy banned .

Seventy-two per cent of voters agree with the idea, 14 per cent of the population is against it and 12 per cent did not know.

The Green Party, which has long advocated for ending conversion therapy, welcomed Labour’s commitment.

“Aotearoa is strongest when everyone can be themselves, free from discrimination. Gay conversion therapy is a cruel and outdated practice, which has no place in our communities,” Green Party rainbow issues spokesperson Jan Logie said today.

Logie said the Greens would go further, creating an Office for Rainbow Communities to improve LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, and asexual) in a policy released today.

The office would be “tasked with developing a plan to improve LGBTQIA rights and championing rainbow issues”.

The Greens' policy would ban conversion therapy by implementing Labour MP Marja Lubeck's member's bill, which is a proposed law to prohibit it.

It intended to prohibit advertising, offering, or performing a treatment that seeks to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

An ACT spokesperson say the do not "believe conversion therapy should be practiced", but added they do not believe in a ban.

As to how Labour would ban conversion therapy, Labour's policy was to create new criminal offences, punishable by "financial fine and/or imprisonment depending in severity, for people, entities or organisations"

Calls to  ban sexual orientation and gender conversion therapy  came in 2018 after TVNZ1's Sunday story that  investigated therapy offered to "cure" people .

A petition was delivered to Parliament in August, 2018 with about 20,000 signatures urging Parliamentarians to ban conversion therapy.