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World News

New Zealand bans conversion therapy following almost unanimous vote

by Sophie Drew

New Zealand has banned conversion therapy following an almost unanimous vote in parliament. 

The legislation encouraged nearly 107,000 public submissions - more than any other bill in the country's history. 

The law, which was passed on Thursday evening, means those performing conversion therapy on anyone under the age of 18 could face three years in prison. 

It is now also an offence to perform conversion practices that cause 'serious harm', no matter the age of the person being converted. 

Those partaking in the latter offence could face five years behind bars. 

Two of New Zealand's ministers have spoken about their own experiences as LGBT+ people within Christianity. 

Kiri Allan took to Facebook to share her experiences after partaking in conversion practices at 16-years-old. 

The post said: ""I went through conversion therapy (it wasn't called that, but that's what it was) through my church. 

"I desperately tried to 'pray the gay' away - to be accepted by my family, community and church.

"My 'illness' & 'weakness' to temptation was etched as sin into my skin. 

"It took a long time to shake that shame and trauma. 

"Tonight our Parliament will ensure this practice is banned in our country for good. 

"For our next generation of babies, I am so incredibly relieved. 

"Thank you to everyone that championed this change."

Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robinson addressed the house, saying: "I grew up in a religious churchgoing household in the era of homosexual law reform," he said. 

"When I finally gathered the courage to come out to my parents, I was met with love, but not everyone is or was so lucky.

"To all those who have been affected by conversion practices or attempts at them, we want to say, this legislation is for you. 

"We cannot bring you back, we cannot undo all of the hurt, but we can make sure that for the generations to come, we provide the support and love you did not get and protect you from the harm of those 
who seek to try to stop you from being who you are."

In the UK, a potential new law surrounding conversion therapy is still in the early stages. 

Christians from both sides of the debate have spoken out, either in favour of the bill or against the new restrictions on conversion practices. 

Some argue that the proposed legislation - which would make it a criminal offence to attempt to 'convert' someone from homosexuality - goes against the teachings of the bible and will mean those who want to 
engage in conversion therapy, due to an 'unwanted' sexuality, will be unable.

Leaders from several denominations have written to Equalities Minister Liz Truss, warning that the bill - in its current draft - would criminalise traditional Christian teachings on sex and marriage. 

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