People who believe they have experienced conversion therapy in New Zealand can now turn to the Human Rights Commission for support.
The New Zealand Human Rights Commission has launched a civil redress process for survivors of conversion practices, six months after the historic Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Act 2022 finally passed the New Zealand parliament.
Conversion practices are any practice that seeks to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. These practices have no therapeutic value or basis in medicine, and there is no evidence that a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity can be changed.
The Commission is offering a free, confidential and impartial dispute resolution process for survivors of conversion practices.
Conversion Practices Support Services Manager Andre Afamasaga said sometimes people don’t realise they’ve been subjected to conversion practices until after the fact.
“Our service is a formal way to address some of the deep harm experienced by the rainbow community in Aotearoa New Zealand under the guise of conversion practices,” said Afamasaga.
“It provides a pathway to acknowledge the experiences of survivors and an opportunity to gain some closure. It will help many to begin healing and move forward from their experiences.”
The Commission’s service will help people to understand what a conversion practice is and the support available to them. It could also connect them to Police, with their consent, if the situation met the threshold of a criminal offence.
“If your complaint isn’t resolved during our disputes resolution process, you can go to the Human Rights Review Tribunal who can make findings and orders. You can apply for free legal representation from the Office of Human Rights Proceedings.
“This is a significant milestone, and it will help victims of conversion practices gain access to justice,” Afamasaga said.
Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt applauded the movement of groups and people who campaigned tirelessly to put an end to conversion practices.
“I very much welcome the government funding for the establishment of this service, and the feedback we have heard from survivors and the sector underlines the need for continued funding beyond this initial period,” said Hunt.
“This also includes focused funding for psychosocial support. Currently, survivors of conversion practices are left with the burden of paying for these services themselves.
“I’m proud of the hard work our team has done to engage communities to build a tangible, people-oriented service available to anyone around the country.
The Commission also has an important role to play in education and prevention of conversion practices over the next year.
“We wish to build relationships and understand how to support education for religious, cultural and family communities. The aim is to help people to fully understand the harm caused by conversion practices and how they can support its elimination,” said Afamasaga.
“Our goal is to help community spaces become safer for members who also identify as rainbow, takatāpui or LGBTQIA+. The Commission welcomes contact from any groups that would like to join us on the journey to this future.”
Anyone in New Zealand who thinks they may have experienced conversion practices or has questions about the conversion practices legislation is encouraged to contact the Commission on 0800 496 877 or to email [email protected] for more information.
For more information visit the website here.
Last Updated on Aug 23, 2022