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Canada and New Zealand Seek to Ban Conversion Therapy

Leaders in New Zealand and Canada announce plans to ban conversion therapy in their respective countries.

The debunked and harmful practice is slowly being pushed out globally.

Government leaders in Canada and New Zealand announced their intentions to ban conversion therapy in their respective countries. A bill to outlaw the controversial practice was reintroduced in Canada while New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern promised to outlaw the practice if she and her party win enough seats in the upcoming election.

"I am committing Labour to ban conversion therapy in New Zealand," Ardern told Gay Express Magazine. "This is a prime example of where an element of our system allows for quite damaging activity, which in modern NZ should just not be happening." And Canadians felt likewise.

"What we're trying to do is create an architecture where the young person is comfortable saying: 'No, you can't do this. We've had the conversation. Stop. Done. This is the way I am,'" Canadian Federal Justice Minister David Lametti told reporters according to CTV News.

Conversion therapy is any set of methods or practices that seek to alter a person's gender identity and/or sexuality. They range from "praying the gay away" to torture. Evidence shows that these practices are not only ineffective, but result in depression, and even suicide attempts. The practice is opposed by a wide range of groups, including American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association, and American Psychological Association, as well as Human Rights Campaign, Born Perfect, and The Trevor Project.

While the fate of conversion therapy in New Zealand depends upon the upcoming election, the Canadian bill is a reintroduction of an earlier bill that was tabled when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stopped parliament due to the global pandemic. The proposed change to current law would make it illegal to force any person to undergo conversion therapy against their will, and ban conversion therapy for children entirely. It would also make it illegal to remove a child from Canada "with the intention" of forcing the child to undergo the treatment elsewhere. Punishments would include up to five years in prison for some violations of the law.

Proponents of the ban in both countries see their efforts as something long overdue and worth fighting for.

"People should not be discriminated against, bullied or hurt for being who they are," Ardern said. "We need to rally around that simple premise."

"Progress has been achieved as a result of brave advocates from our community stepping forward," Canadian Minister of Parliament Randall Garrison told reporters. "Nothing has ever been given to my community in terms of protecting our rights, without a struggle."

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