The proposed ‘conversion therapy’ ban will be yet another attack on parents’ rights, is fundamentally flawed and unfair, and has been opposed by the Ministry of Health, a government select committee, and by the general public.
A ban would criminalise parents who wish to protect their child from the physical, emotional, and psychological harm caused by gender dysphoria. Shockingly, parents would be criminalised and potentially liable up to five years in jail simply for affirming that their sons are boys and their daughters are girls. These bans will lock children into transgenderism.
The government want to criminalise the discussion and practice of alternatives to hormones, surgery and confusion.
Merely encouraging a gender confused child to wait for the orientating effects of puberty to be worked through may be considered a form of child abuse, or ‘domestic or psychological abuse’ as has been suggested by the Australian Labor party, and is happening in Canada and the U.S.
A parent who promotes biological sex will be criminalised, but an activist who indoctrinates young children with the concept of ‘gender fluidity’ and ‘third gender’ will be celebrated. This is not loving or compassionate towards children. Numerous reviews show the majority of children who are confused about their gender also suffer from diagnosed mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety.
It will also be dangerous for a therapist to counsel someone with gender dysphoria in a way that affirms their biology. Islamic and Christian schools could be breaking the law for teaching their students that Allah/God made us male and female. Church leaders, youth workers and imams could become criminals for reading and explaining the Quran or the Bible – that is, for doing their job.
If a person wanted to align their sexuality with the teachings and values of their particular faith – be it Muslim or Christian, Jewish or Sikh – and sought help to do so from a minister, imam or other faith leader, a ban would make it virtually impossible to access the support they wanted. Furthermore, if they were able to find someone prepared to provide counselling of that kind, they could well cause that person to become implicated in a criminal offence. According to the government bill, consent is not relevant.
The right of self-determination is a founding principle of the mental health profession, and for children, the wider whanau / family is part of this important value and support base.
ONE ‘INFORMAL’ COMPLAINT IN 10 YEARS:
The Human Rights Commission in response to an Official Information Act request from Family First NZ has admitted that there has only been one informal complaint and no formal complaints in the past 10 year in relation to ‘conversion therapy’. A ‘formal complaint’ is where the other party is notified of a complaint against them. The Office of the Health and Disability Commissioner, in response to a similar inquiry, was also unable to provide any specific numbers. An informal search of 1400 decisions dating back to 1997 suggests that there have been no complaints around ‘conversion therapy’. Some of the politicians who have previously supported the proposed ban have admitted they’re also not aware of any cases of involuntary ‘conversion therapy’ in their communities.
Official advice to the Minister and Associate Minister of Health regarding ‘conversion therapy’ has revealed that a ban is not recommended. Official Information Act requests show that in 2018, Associate Minister of Health and Green MP Julie Anne Genter was advised by the Ministry of Health:
“Due to the current protections that are in place, and the need to balance the rights of people with preventing harm, it is not recommended that a legislative ban of conversion therapy would be the most effective way to reduce the harm it causes…”
The ministerial advice also notes that people have the freedom to willingly engage in the practice, that protections already exist in the health sector, and that a ban “could be inconsistent” with the NZ Bill of Rights Act 1990 “which provides for rights of assembly, free speech and rights to freedom of religion”.
In 2019, the Justice Select Committee, consisting of MPs from Labour and National, considered two petitions wanting to ban ‘conversion therapy’. In their report, they rightly declined to support such a ban, stating:
“The Bill of Rights Act affirms, protects, and promotes human rights and fundamental freedoms in New Zealand. It allows all New Zealanders to live free from discrimination, including in relation to their sexual orientation. New Zealanders also have the right to freedom of religion. This protects those who offer and seek out conversion therapy because of their religious views.”
A nationwide poll at the beginning of this year also found that there is widespread public opposition to the legal effects of a ‘conversion therapy’ ban. 81% of respondents said they believed a person should be able to seek counselling support to determine their own direction if they are unsure about their sexual orientation or gender identity. 81% said that it should not be a crime for a parent to affirm to their daughter that she’s a girl or to their son that he’s a boy. And just 16% think it should be a crime for a faith leader to teach a Biblical or Koran view of sexuality, and of gender being determined at birth. In all three questions, there was no significance difference in responses based on gender, age, area, socio-economic factors or political party support.
We agree with the proponents – all New Zealanders should be protected from coercive, abusive or involuntary psychological or spiritual practices. Sadly, in the past, many state institutions sanctioned inhumane treatments such as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), being stripped naked and being locked in a small room, massive doses of medication, lobotomies and screaming patients chained to chairs. Fortunately, these are not part of current practice and certainly not part of any religious organisation.
However, participation in psychological assessments, counselling sessions, prayer meetings and other therapeutic practices is almost always an expression of voluntary behaviour and personal freedom.
Under this proposed ban, people would be prevented from getting help to live the lifestyle they choose – if that lifestyle is heterosexual or based on their biological sex. While gender and sexuality is supposedly ‘fluid’, activists want the law to stipulate that it can only go in the direction they approve.
Banning practices which bring about positive change for people in pain, changes they genuinely desire for themselves, would be the real crime. If diversity and inclusivity are things we want for our country, then the Prime Minister’s “everyone should be free to be who they are” must include people who hold different ideas and beliefs about gender and sexuality.
To penalise people on the basis of their beliefs or personal lifestyle choices lacks fairness and is a dangerous discrimination. To criminalise parents who genuinely care for their children should certainly not be a crime warranting five years in jail.
Family First is getting a legal opinion on the bill.