Conversion Therapy Activists Welcome Bill Announcement At Festival For The Future - Could Go Further
News that the New Zealand Government is introducing a bill to ban conversion therapy was met with loud applause at the 11th Festival for the Future at Wellington’s TSB Arena today - Aotearoa’s largest social innovation and leadership summit, while some activists feel it could go further.
A number of activists and supporters for the Bill were in attendance when Minister Hon Priyanca Radhakrishnan referenced the announcement.
The 2021 Impact Awards will take place this evening as part of the Festival, with many of those who have fought for the issue to be acknowledged.
They include 2020 Inclusion Impact Award winner Shaneel Lal (they/them) who will be presenting and pioneered the Conversion Therapy Action Group. Activists Georgia Andrews LGBTQI+ advocate (she/her) and Trinity Thomson-Browne (they/them) are both acknowledged in the Inclusion Impact Awards Category this year.
“I welcome the bill, however it is not the bill I would like to see come into law,” says Shaneel.
“Most survivors and grassroots activists are disappointed with the bill, but we're willing to work on it with select committees so it becomes the law that we need.”
Advocacy Group InsideOUT is also in attendance at the Festival’s expo and their group welcomed the legislation to ban conversion practices in Aotearoa.
Managing Director Tabby Besley (she/her) said,“We know conversion practices contribute to ill mental health in rainbow communities. Introducing this law is an important step towards preventing further harm and raising more awareness that trying to change someone’s sexuality or gender isn’t okay.
We believe there is still an opportunity to make the bill stronger through the select committee stage, most importantly by placing more emphasis on how survivors of conversion practices can access support such as free counselling.
The support from the petitions to ban conversion therapy, and evident in the crowd at Festival For The Future sends a clear message that Aotearoa is ready to pass this law.”
Former Young New Zealander of the Year and founder of Festival for the Future Guy Ryan said the ban on gay conversion therapy is an issue that is really important for huge parts of our community.
“I want to acknowledge the young people as part of our community in particular for their courage and advocacy for pushing the Government on this issue.
“I don’t think for any of them it's been an easy journey to get to this point. At every step they have been met with backlash and criticism.
But that perseverance and pushing for human rights, that continued advocacy that they have taken to our leaders has been incredibly important. And it's fantastic to see that perseverance now being recognised by the political leaders of our country.”