Legislation to protect the rights of rainbow communities in New Zealand have been passed by Parliament after an elongated process that has taken more than 3 years.
Ending conversion therapy was one of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s campaign promises when she was elected for a second term last year.
A local committee set up to investigate the legislation received nearly 107,000 public submissions on the Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Bill – the highest number of public submissions ever received on a piece of legislation in New Zealand.
Under the legislation, it will be an offence to perform conversion practices on a child or young person aged under 18, or on someone with impaired decision-making capacity. Such offences would be subject to up to 3 years imprisonment.
It will also be an offence to perform conversion practices on anyone – irrespective of age – where the practices have caused serious harm, and offenders can be subject to up to 5 years imprisonment.
Minister of Justice Kris Faafoi said it was a great day for New Zealand’s rainbow communities.
“Conversion practices have no place in modern New Zealand,” Faafoi said.
“Delivering on our 2020 election manifesto commitment to prohibit conversion practices will prevent the harm they cause, provide an avenue for redress, and uphold the human rights of all New Zealanders to live free from discrimination and harm.”
In addition, the Bill creates a pathway for civil redress, in recognition that criminal proceedings will not always be an appropriate response to conversion practices.
Civil redress will be an option where complaints about conversion practices could be made to the Human Rights Commission and the Human Rights Review Tribunal.
The Human Rights Commission will play an important role in providing education about conversion practices and guide survivors on how to access the support that they may need.
“For clarity, the legislation also lays out what is not conversion practice and protects the right to express opinion, belief, religious belief or principle which is not intended to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
“This legislation is not looking to criminalise open and respectful conversations which aim to facilitate help and support where someone is wrestling with their sexuality.
“In banning conversion practices in New Zealand, we join other countries around the world in sending a clear message that all people, including young people, deserve to be protected, no matter their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
“All people, including rainbow communities, deserve to have their rights and dignity protected, and to live their lives freely just as they are,” Faafoi said.
Some parts of the legislation, including the criminal offences, come into force immediately following Royal Assent.
The civil provisions relating to the Human Rights Commission and Human Rights Review Tribunal will come into force six months after Royal Assent.
Last Updated on Feb 16, 2022