'More work needs to be done' before gay conversion therapy banned in NZ, report says

The Justice Committee has reported back on two petitions to ban gay conversion therapy and conversion therapy, a year after they were presented to Parliament.

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Parliament's Justice select committee declined a petition calling for prohibition of gay conversion therapy. Source: 1 NEWS

More than 20,000 people signed the petition to ban gay therapy, which garnered strong support after a TVNZ Sunday story exposed the practice in New Zealand.

The select committee came to the conclusion that while it agrees conversion therapy is harmful, it needs to gather more information before banning it.

"In particular, thought must be given to how to define conversion therapy, who the ban would apply to, and how to ensure that right relating to freedom of expression and religion were maintained," the report said.

The report acknowledged that in New Zealand, it is considered unethical behaviour for registered counsellors to provide conversion therapy but there was "anecdotal evidence" that gay conversion therapy is relatively common.

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Three gay men spoke about the conversion therapy they’ve been through, and Sunday goes undercover to find people offering it. Source: Sunday

Member of The Conversion Therapy Action Group (CTAG) and original petitioner, Max Tweedie told 1 NEWS he was disappointed. 

“I find the Committee’s report even more disappointing because they acknowledge the widespread harm conversion therapy causes, but still fall short of recommending a ban.”

Mr Tweedie said the religious freedom barrier was a "cop out".

"Our religious freedoms, freedom of expressions are not absolute. They are subjected to limits as set out in the Human Rights Act and Bill of Rights Act, and are designed as such to prevent these freedoms from causing harm, particularly in relation to more vulnerable communities.”