The Conversion Practices Prohibition Bill was recently voted into law. While I voted against it at the Second Reading, I supported it at its Third Reading.
I am a proud supporter of the LGBTQI+ community and want New Zealand and especially the Taupō electorate to be a place that celebrates and supports diversity, including our rainbow community.
The Bill prohibits changing sexual orientation or gender identity by conversion therapy of a person under 18 or someone with impaired decision-making capacity.
For the first reading, the National Party Caucus took a party position against the bill and then agreed subsequent readings would be a conscience vote.
There are different views for different reasons across Parliament and MPs can cast their votes independently according to their conscience on some issues.
During the Second Reading of the Bill, I still had some concerns following the Select Committee process and voted against it.
Those concerns included the role of parents in decisions about their children, particularly about medical procedures or interventions such as puberty blockers that can have a permanent impact.
Under the Bill, anyone intentionally changing or suppressing someone's gender identity or sexual orientation could be breaking the law.
Every family should be a safe environment for open, secure, and challenging conversations where all family members can share their opinions and concerns without the fear of prosecution.
At the time, I was concerned that the law would criminalise parents for having those conversations.
My job as a legislator is to understand the content and detail of a Bill, and not just the title, to ensure there aren't unintended consequences of the law that we are about to pass.
For this Bill, I carefully reviewed the Hansard and the commitments on record made by the Minister between the Second Reading and Third Reading of the Bill, especially around the role of parents. As a result, my concerns in that specific area were reduced.
As with all conscience votes, I always seek the views of my constituents through face to face discussions and surveys, do my research, and then weigh up both sides of the argument before voting. However, there was a limited amount of time to do this on this bill.
Although I would have liked more time to consider my vote, Labour moved the Bill quickly through the different stages of the legislative process and I had to make a decision that would rest easy with my conscience.
I received over a hundred emails and social media messages where my constituents expressed their feelings about conversion therapy.
I kept an open mind, weighed up the pros and cons of the bill and supported it at the Third Reading.
I'm pleased the Bill has passed. Conversion therapy is an abhorrent practice, and I am glad to see it banned. It has no place in our societies. Thank you to everyone that shared their views with me.
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