National commits to banning conversion therapy after Collins googles it

National will support Labour's efforts to protect LGBT+ Kiwis from conversion therapy in New Zealand after all, leader Judith Collins confirmed today.

Last week Collins said the party had "no position" on whether conversion therapy should be banned in the country.

Addressing media at Parliament today, Collins said she'd changed her mind after googling what conversion therapy was.

"[National's caucus] are all opposed to gay conversion therapy so we look forward to the Bill being presented," she says.

"I used this thing called Google to find out all about it, then I also listened to people about it, the Young Nationals, who are very progressive on such issues and they were very helpful."

While Collins refers to "gay conversion therapy", the pseudoscientific practice is also used against transgender people and people of varying sexual orientations and gender identities.

When asked whether the party directly supports a ban on the practice, Collins replied: "Oh yes."

"We think that's the right thing to do. None of us have any truck with anybody being bullied or told that they're wrong, when they're dealing with their sexuality," she says.

Collins wouldn't say whether the decision was unanimous within the caucus, only that it was a "consensus decision".

Conversion therapy is a term used for trying to force people to change their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, often used in an attempt to force gay people to become hetereosexual or transgender people to become cisgender.

There is no scientific backing behind the practice and instead it's been linked to poor mental health outcomes, including leading to depression, anxiety and suicide.

Shaneel Lal, co-founder of Conversion Therapy Action Group (CTAG), says the change of tack shows a "real push" to see conversion therapy banned.

However, they also want politicians to recognise it just doesn't affect gay people.

"I think that when we are talking to politicians and when politicians are making their positions on conversion therapy, they need to include all people," they say.

"One in six transgender or non-binary people are approached actively by medical professionals to stop them from being trans or non binary.

"I think that even the members of the queer community needs to start becoming aware that banning conversion therapy is not just about protecting cisgender gay men."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has committed to banning conversion therapy by the end of the year; Lal says they should be working faster.

"While the Prime Minister of New Zealand delays the ban, there will be more queer people that will be tortured and that cannot be tolerated," they say.

Before the election last year, numbers from TVNZ's Vote Compass tool show the majority of Kiwis want to see conversion therapy banned immediately .