New Zealand lawmakers on Tuesday voted nearly unanimously to ban the practice of conversion therapy.
Members of the country’s Parliament voted to pass the Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Bill with 112 votes in favor to only eight against.
The new law will make it illegal to practice conversion therapies, with the intent of forcibly changing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, on anyone under the age of 18 or with impaired decision-making abilities, punishable with up to three years in prison. The legislation also makes it an offense to practice conversion therapies that cause serious harm to anyone, regardless of age, with up to five years in prison.
“This is a great day for New Zealand’s rainbow communities,” said the country’s Minister of Justice Kris Faafoi, as reported by Reuters. “Conversion practices have no place in modern New Zealand.”
However, some activists are saying that the legislation is not enough to protect individuals from conversion therapy, or its negative effects. Anti-conversion therapy activist Shaneel Lal told Newshub that she was disappointed the legislation does not allow survivors of the practice to seek financial compensation under the country’s Accidental Compensation Corporation (ACC), which helps cover medical costs. She also cited the provision which requires that those 18 and older must prove serious harm for an offense to be recognized.
“The most common consequences of conversion therapy often include depression and suicidal ideation and it’s unlikely that will be captured by serious harm,” she said. “In criminal law, as of now, there have been no cases recognizing depression and suicidal ideation as serious harm or grievous bodily harm.”
New Zealand is now on a growing list of countries that have banned conversion therapy practices, including Canada, which voted to ban conversion therapy last year.