The Conversion Therapy Action Group (CTAG) Urges The Govt To Act On Their Election Promise To Ban Conversion Therapy
2021 marks the start of the fourth year since Young Labour, Young Greens and Rodney Labour petitioned to ban Conversion Therapy in Aotearoa. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says that she wants to see the bill to ban Conversion Therapy in Parliament by the end of 2021.
Conversion therapy is any practice or form of treatment that seeks to change, suppress, or eliminate someone’s sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression. The fundamental principle of conversion therapy is that being takatāpui, MVPFAFF, LGBTQIA+, or other BIPOC rainbow identities – collectively known as “rainbow” - is wrong and can be changed. Both claims are false. The CTAG seeks to ban all forms of Conversion Therapy including medical and religious forms for all ages.
CTAG member and Director of Auckland Pride Max Tweedie has urged the government to take action ‘as soon as possible’.
“The really frustrating thing is that while there are flip flops on it and it goes around in circles, there are queer people who are experiencing conversion therapy who may not have had to have it, had the Government acted a year ago or two years ago,” Tweedie said.
Shannon Novak, CTAG co-founder and Director of the Safe Space Alliance states:
"The longer we wait, the more lives we put at risk and possibly lose. The New Zealand rainbow community has highly disproportionate rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide as reported by the Human Rights Commission in 2020 and conversion therapy is a known and documented contributor to this".
Labour MP Marja Lubeck already has a Member’s Bill seeking to ban Conversion Therapy. With a few edits after consultation with the community, the bill will be ready to go - if the government chose to adopt it.
The National Party has “no position” on Conversion Therapy ban. They are discussing the issue on Tuesday after Simon Bridges told the AM Show that banning Conversion Therapy is an attack on freedom of speech.
"I personally do have a wider concern. That is freedom of speech. That is in a liberal society, in a tolerant society, we have been very tolerant of different views," Simon said.
"If we don't like it we are going to criminalise it and I do worry about that."
Shaneel Lal, co-founder of the Conversion Therapy Action Group, says Bridges showed a "high level of ignorance" in his comments.
"Hatred towards queer people is not freedom of speech, it's hate speech. You don't get to be openly hateful towards marginalised people and expect a pass for it," Shaneel said.
"Conversion therapy is the torture of queer people, and there is no such freedom that should allow for that to continue.
“The National Party has a choice; they can either be stubborn in their position which is “no position,” on whether queer people should be tortured or they can have compassion and empathy and support the ban on conversion therapy. It is their opportunity to amend the relationships they have damaged with the queer community.
“The Labour Party does not get away by empty promises either. They must act and they must listen to the needs of the community. Promises don’t make policies.”
“We extend an invitation to all parties to engage with us to understand why we need a ban immediately," Lal says.