HRC to play a role in law banning conversion practices

HRC to play a role in law banning conversion practices

July 30, 2021

Te Kāhui Tika Tangata / The Human Rights Commission welcomes the Government’s introduction of the Conversion Practices Prohibition Bill.

The proposed legislation would criminalise conversion practices. If passed, it would also create a civil pathway for redress by establishing a new provision under which people can lodge a complaint that may lead to mediation.

The Commission will be working to prepare its complaints services in readiness for this law change.  If a complaint is unable to be resolved using the Commission’s services, a claim could then be taken to the Human Rights Review Tribunal.

The Tribunal will be able to grant a range of remedies, such as a declaration that a wrong has occurred, an order restraining a person or organisation from continuing to perform conversion practices, or an award of damages. 

The Bill before parliament aims to protect people from conversion practices intended to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. 

The view that there is only one ‘correct’ sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression is harmful, with people who experience these practices often left extremely distressed and even suicidal.

Conversion practices are grounded in beliefs that sexual orientation should be heterosexual and that gender is fixed at birth as binary – either male or female. 

The Commission affirms that all sexualities, genders, and gender expressions are a normal part of our diverse society in Aotearoa. Te Tiriti o Waitangi recognises tino rangatiratanga over sexuality, gender, and gender expression. No person should be discriminated against on the basis of these characteristics.

The Commission strongly supports the Bill’s intention to end these harmful practices – and intends to play a role in providing education about this important human rights issue and, if the law is enacted, in assisting survivors in accessing the support that they may need.