Submissions open on bill banning conversion practices


Tue 31 Aug 2021

The Justice Committee is calling for public submissions on the Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Bill.

The closing date for submissions is 8 September 2021.

The Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Bill was introduced on 30 July 2021 by Justice Minister Kris Faafoi.

The purpose of the legislation is to prohibit conversion practices that seek to change or suppress a person's sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Conversion practices are also called conversion therapy. These practices are currently legal in New Zealand.

In announcing the bill Minister 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 fixing.

“Health professionals, religious leaders and human rights advocates here and overseas have spoken out against these practices as harmful and having the potential to perpetuate prejudice, discrimination and abuse towards members of rainbow communities.”

The omnibus bill would create two new criminal offences for either the most serious cases of harm or where there is heightened risk of harm. Under the proposed legislation it would be an offence to:

  • perform conversion practices on individuals under the age of 18, or on those who lack decision-making capacity
  • perform conversion practices that the administering person knew would cause serious harm to an individual, or was reckless in the performance of the conversion practice.

The Bill also creates a pathway for civil redress. Civil redress could involve a complaints process about conversion practices with the Human Rights Commission and the Human Rights Review Tribunal.

The bill submission webpage provides a basic overview of the proposed legislation, noting that the bill "...would make it unlawful for any person in New Zealand to:

  • direct a person towards conversion practices,
  • perform a conversion practice that causes serious harm, or
  • arrange for a conversion practice to be performed on any person with the intention to change and supress a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression."

In February 2021, Green spokesperson for Rainbow Communities Dr Elizabeth Kerekere submitted a petition to Parliament signed by more than 157,000 people calling on the government to ban conversion therapy.

Response from advocates

Shaneel Lal, co-founder of the Conversion Therapy Action Group, has written an article for the Spinoff outlining changes needed in the bill to better meet the needs and rights of survivors. Shaneel has also spoken about the legislation in an interview with 95bFM

Gender Minorities Aotearoa has written that they support the intent of the bill but are calling for changes to better protect transgender populations.

InsideOut has listed recommendations for change and important points to note when thinking about making a submission on the legislation. 

Outline Aotearoa is hosting a session on Zoom on 2 September 2021 on how to write a submission. You can RSVP online for the Zoom session or find more information on the Outline Aotearoa Facebook page or Twitter page.

Rainbow Greens of Aotearoa New Zealand are hosting a session on Zoom on 5 September with Dr Elizabeth Kerekere to outline what the Bill is about and offer tips on writing a submission.

Many advocates, academics, researchers and health and social service providers have welcomed the bill and discussed key points of the proposed legislation. See related media below for more information.

Related news

The Governance and Administration Committee is inviting submissions on changes proposed in supplementary order paper (SOP) 59 on the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Bill. The closing date for submissions is 14 September 2021.

The Committee has opened an inquiry into the changes proposed in supplementary order paper (SOP) 59. The inquiry is focused on the provisions in the SOP which would change the process by which people can self-identify their sex on their birth records. The Committee is calling for submissions on the inquiry, noting:

"The SOP aims to provide better support for the needs of transgender, non-binary, and intersex communities. Similar changes to self-identification provisions were recommended by the Governance and Administration Committee of the 52nd Parliament when it first considered the bill. However, these changes were recommended after the public consultation process on the bill had concluded. To allow the public to have its say on the self-identification provisions the Governance and Administration Committee of this Parliament has opened this inquiry."

The Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Registration (BDMRR) Bill was introduced in 2017. The Department of Internal Affairs notes that the bill was put on hold in 2019 after the Select Committee introduced changes to the Bill to make it easier for people to amend the sex recorded on their birth certificate. Internal Affairs Minister Jan Tinetti is proposing improvements to the self-identification process recommended by the Select Committee in 2018 through the Supplementary Order Paper (SOP).

Gender Minorities Aotearoa has published a BDMRR submission guide.

Related media

Threshold for 'serious harm' too high in conversion therapy bill, say submitters, Stuff, 17.09.2021

Conversion therapy ban bill: Submitters call for stronger law, RNZ, 16.09.2021

Why New Zealand’s proposed law banning conversion practices is so unlikely to criminalise parents, The Conversation, 12.08.2021

Banning conversion therapy, RNZ, 05.08.2021

ANZASW supports introduction of Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation, Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers media release, 03.08.2021

Bill Needed To Stop The Serious Harm Caused By Conversion Practices, Press Release: Transgender Health Research Lab, Scoop, 30.07.2021

Te Pāti Māori Welcomes Announcement Of ‘Ban Conversion Therapy’ Bill, Press Release: Te Pāti Māori | The Māori Party, Scoop, 30.07.2021

HRC To Play A Role In Law Banning Conversion Practices, Press Release: Human Rights Commission, Human Rights Commission media release, 30.07.2021

Five laws and regulations that still discriminate against rainbow communities in NZ, Re: News, 16.03.2021

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