Youth MP calls for more action to ban gay conversion therapy a year after petition presented to Parliament

South Auckland Youth MP Shaneel Lal took to Parliament recently to speak out against gay conversion therapy.

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Some professionals say there are people who seek two-three conversion therapy sessions a week. Source: 1 NEWS

He says it's been a year since a petition was presented to ban the practice and Parliament's Justice Committee has not yet reported back on the petition.

"Being LGBTQIA does not make you less human, so why are there laws that allow oppression over these people?" Mr Lal told 1 NEWS.

Last year an investigation conducted by TVNZ's Sunday revealed that conversion therapy in New Zealand is readily available.

Some professionals say people are wanting two-three conversion sessions a week.

A spokesperson for Living Wisdom School of Counselling told 1 NEWS that 20 to 30 people had their heterosexuality "restored" through its services.

"Often this issue has just been a part of their general confusion or dysfunction," he said.

Mr Lal says updating the sexual health curriculum in schools needs to happen so that young people know that "being gay is okay" and "trans rights are human rights".

"Conversion therapy is not about 'praying the gay away', it's about psychologically and physically torturing the most vulnerable to death," Mr Lal told the Youth Parliament.

Mr Lal says young people from the LGBTQIA community are also more susceptible to mental health issues as a result of bullying, rejection and ignorance.

His concerns come as new figures this week showed the number of suicides in New Zealand increased to 685 in the last year.

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Suicide numbers in New Zealand are the highest since records began. Source: 1 NEWS

The Ministry of Education says LGBTQIA students are five times more likely to make a suicide attempt due to unsafe school environments.

Minister of Justice Andrew Little says he opposes the practice of conversion therapy.

"To force anyone to become someone they are not is abhorrent," Mr Little said.

"Any changes to specifically ban conversion therapy will require careful consideration of everyone’s human rights, including freedom of religion and freedom of discrimination," he said.

Mr Little says the Government has not yet decided whether to consider these changes.