TODAY |

MPs meet campaigners demanding ban to 'crazy' conversion therapy - 'We've got a long way to go'

Campaigners have handed over a petition urging the Government to ban controversial conversion therapy.

A small crowd of people turned up at Parliament to hand over petitions from Young Greens and Young Labour and also Rodney Area Rainbow, totalling about 20,000 signatures. 

Calls to ban sexual orientation and gender conversion therapy came after TVNZ1's Sunday story that investigated therapy offered to "cure" people who find themselves attracted to the same sex.

Labour MP Louisa Wall commended the "strong, gay people" on the programme "who talked about this crazy therapy that they had to endure". 

Finance Minister Grant Robertson told the crowd of supporters Labour's Rainbow caucus discussed the issue with Justice Minister Andrew Little, and acknowledged in the Human Rights Act "we've still got a way to go". 

He said they would take the issue "very, very seriously". 

MPs also at the event included Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson and about 10 other Labour MPs, with Marja Lubeck receiving the petitions. 

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

Young Greens co-convener Max Tweedie, who helped instigate the petition, spoke on TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning and said "fundamentally we know that this practice is harmful". 

Green Party co-convenor, Max Tweedie, gives an update on the 20,000 strong joint Young Green Party/Labour petition. Source: Breakfast

The document will be taken to a Government select committee.

The committee will then asses how a ban would work, and report back to Parliament.  

What is the issue with implementing a ban?

Health:

The New Zealand Association of Counsellors are self-regulated, which meant it would be difficult for the Government to regulate conversion therapy within the health sector, however Robyn McGill of the NZAC said conversion therapy goes against everything they stand for.

Conversion therapy is "not acceptable" within the New Zealand Association of Counsellors, with those found practicing potentially face a loss of registration. 

"This is absolutely contravening lots of different things about respect for human dignity for individual and cultural differences, [they're] not abiding that. This is part of the association of what defines is as counsellors," she said. 

Ms McGill said if the client or another colleague knew a person was practicing conversion therapy within the NZAC, it could be taken to the ethics committee with a complaint laid against them. 

She said people who practice conversion therapy would not be welcome in NZAC, which could result in a possible exclusion from jobs such as ACC work, and where people want to be assured of professional membership and safety for the public". 

A ban would "send a signal that this is not to be tolerated", as would wider knowledge in society that is was not acceptable may "influence people to think again". 

Justice:

Young Greens Co-Convenor Max Tweedie said if conversion therapy was banned in the justice sector, "it would go across to people who aren’t counsellors but are still offering counselling practices within the church or within their religious institutions".

On July 30, a spokesperson for Mr Little said the Government "has no plans at this time" in relation to banning gay conversion therapy in New Zealand, however they were "keeping an eye on developments overseas". 

Mr Tweedie told 1 NEWS at the time it was "incredibly disappointing", but was hopeful a ban could still be implemented.

1 NEWS spoke to various groups who are pushing the Government to outlaw the practise. Source: 1 NEWS

"I think it's a missed opportunity to actually take a step towards protecting the rainbow community from this sort of really awful treatment that’s being carried out in New Zealand," he said. 

"The message from our community loud and clear is we want this banned because it is harmful to us and it is something that shouldn't be happening in modern Aotearoa 2018."

On August 4, Mr Little told Radio New Zealand a ban could be considered as part of next year's review of the Human Rights Act. 

"If we can weave it in around something like that, then that's something it would be good to hear submissions to a select committee about."

Mr Tweedie made a plea Mr Little: "This is a piece of legislation that we really need protect our community. We know Labour and the Greens have been strong supporters of our community in the past, this is another time we need you."

"Our community has had to go through a lot and has had to fight a lot to get our rights that we deserve in the law of the country and this is another one of those cases."

The 20,000-strong petition calling for sexual orientation and gender conversion therapy to be outlawed was presented to Parliament today. Source: 1 NEWS