The New Zealand government on Friday introduced a bill in the country’s parliament that criminalizes conversion practices targeting LGBTQ + people in order to deter the execution of such practices.
The bill defines the practice of conversion as any action taken against a person because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, with the intention of changing or removing the sexual orientation, l gender identity or gender expression of that person. In addition, the bill excludes from the scope of the conversion practices health services provided by health care practitioners, as well as persons offering legitimate advice, support and advice. The bill also exempts the general expression of religious beliefs about sexuality and gender from the definition.
Introducing the bill, Justice Minister Kris Faafoi said “conversion practices have no place in modern New Zealand. They are based on the false belief that any person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression is broken and in need of correction. He further added, “in line with our 2020 election manifesto to ban conversion practices,” the bill will provide a way to redress the damage caused by conversion practices and protect the human rights of all Neo-Americans. Zealander to live without discrimination.
The bill prohibits anyone from undertaking a conversion practice on a person under the age of 18 or on anyone who does not have the mental capacity to understand the nature and implications of decisions affecting their health. Any violation of this provision is punishable by imprisonment not exceeding 3 years. In addition, the bill stipulates that any conversion practice that causes “serious harm” to a person would be punishable by up to 5 years in prison. In any event, the consent of the person who engages in such practices does not constitute a defense.
In addition, the bill also creates a civil remedy for survivors of conversion practices by authorizing the Human Rights Commission to receive complaints.
The move comes just months after the New Zealand government announced in February 2021 that it would pass a law banning conversion practices. In June, Canada’s House of Commons also approved a bill criminalizing LGBTQ + conversion practices.