New Zealand Bans Conversion Therapy!

New Zealand's parliament passed a bill that will ban conversion therapy on Tuesday, February 15. Introduced in August 2021, the Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Bill passed its third reading with a massive offset of 112 to 8.

When enacted, the bill will "prohibit conversion practices that seek to change or suppress a person's sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression."

The Labour Party eagerly announced the bill's passing and the realization of their promise, calling it "a great day for our Rainbow communities." "We promised to ban conversion practices in our 2020 election manifesto, and now we're delivering on that promise," the party said. 

Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson gave an impassioned speech during the vote as he opened the bill's third reading. Robertson called it historic legislation that can right the wrongs of conversion practices.

In his speech, Robertson said not everyone was lucky when they came out, remembering a former colleague, James. The "sweetest and most gentleman who you would ever meet," Robertson said. The lawmaker shared James' plight when his parents met him with anger and rejection after coming out to them.

"He took his own life at the age of 23," Robertson continued solemnly.

"To James and many like him from all parts of the Rainbow communities… this legislation is for you." "We cannot bring you back. We cannot undo all of the hurt. But, we can make sure that for the generations to come, we provide the support and love that you did not get," Robertson added.

Fellow Labour Party MP Kiri Allan also disclosed her own conversion therapy experience. "I desperately tried to pray the gay away," she said.

Through a powerful op-ed, Andrew Macfarlane, an Australian news correspondent, revealed his firsthand experience of conversion therapy's horrors and emotional trauma. "I remember after one particularly grueling day, I immediately went home to lay on my bed in a dark room and cried," Macfarlane said, recalling his undercover experience.

Once implemented, the bill will criminalize conversion therapy practices. Anyone proved to conduct it on a child or young person under age 18 or with impaired decision-making capacity will be subjected to three years imprisonment. The penalty will be up to five years for cases with serious harm.

Paul Hunt, Chief Human Rights Commissioner, said they would establish a conversion-practices response services team.

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