NZ ruling party vows to ban sexual orientation conversion

Although brought up a Mormon, New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern left the church in solidarity with her gay friends. (AP pic)

WELLINGTON: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s centre-left government vowed on Monday to ban conversion therapy, which aims to change a person’s sexual orientation, if returned to power, as widely expected, in polls on Oct 17.

The globally discredited treatment, which harms and stigmatises members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans community has adherents in New Zealand, however.

A recent survey showed more than one in six respondents reported being subjected to the efforts of psychiatrists, psychologists or counsellors to stop them being trans or non-binary, Labour Party leader Tamati Coffey said.

“Conversion therapy has been linked to severe adverse mental health issues, including depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation – that’s why it will be banned under a reelected Labour Government,” Coffey said in a statement.

“It is a practise that causes harm and is out of place in the kind, inclusive and modern country we are.”

Ardern’s Labour-led government, which is in a coalition with the Green Party and the nationalist New Zealand First Party, is widely seen as winning in the election.

In the past, Ardern has spoken in support of banning conversion therapy.

Although brought up a Mormon, she left the church because of its conservative view on the LGBT community, and in solidarity with her gay friends.

Several US states such as California, Colorado, New York and Washington have banned conversion therapy, which is sometimes performed by religious establishments and can include hypnosis and electric shocks, as a movement grows against it.

Neighbouring Canada reintroduced a bill this month to criminalise such efforts.