Crime = Prayer, Parental Love, Personal Choice

The Select Committee report on the proposed ban on ‘conversion therapy’ has just been released – and as expected, it makes disturbing reading. They have completely ignored all concerns which you raised during the submission process.

Loving parents like you and me could be jailed for up to 5 years. Pastors and imams could be jailed. Self-determination of how you want to live your life will be treated similar to aiding and abetting a crime. This bill will have a significant ‘chilling’ effect.


Here’s some of the key disturbing statements in the report:

The definition of conversion practice does not explicitly state whether it would cover both one-off and cumulative practices. We believe that the definition should cover both, as harm can be caused by one-off acts as well as by cumulative practices.”

This has expanded the possibility of a parent or youthworker or pastor being caught. A simple one-off discussion could be caught – as could a weekly bible study on sex and gender.

We believe examples would be useful to provide further context for behaviours that could be captured by the definition. Therefore, we recommend amending clause 5 to include examples of what constitutes a conversion practice…. Examples would include:
– encouraging an individual to believe that their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression needs changing because it is a defect or disorder
– carrying out a prayer-based practice, a deliverance practice, or an exorcism intending to change or suppress an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

So prayer is specifically included as a ‘conversion’ practice – even when requested by the person. The Ministry of Justice advice to the Government in its Regulatory Impact Statement already admitted that Prayer and counselling will be caught under the law. The ban would be useless if they didn’t include prayer (they explicitly state this!)

The other concern is that the Committee is admitting that the definition is not clear and needs further clarification – something that thousands of submitters told them.

Clause 5(2)(f) would exclude expressing a religious principle or belief from what is captured under the definition of a conversion practice. However, it would need to be expressed without the intention to change or suppress the sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression of the individual it is being expressed to.

The problem is that the opinion by Grant Illingworth QC warns that parental guidance and counselling could potentially be caught if expressed in words or conduct, that conversion “practice” could readily include teaching, counselling and praying for someone, and that there is a risk of serious disruption within religious communities including Muslim and Christian faiths which will be significant and substantial, will have a ‘chilling effect’ on freedom of expression concerning gender issues, and will fail in its stated purpose of promoting respectful and open discussions regarding sexuality and gender.

We disagree that gender-affirming care or supporting a gender transition could be classified as conversion practices.

How convenient. But it is the key point to note. If this bill is passed, conversion therapy will still be legal. As long as you’re converting someone to homosexuality or to be transgender, that will still be supported and endorsed by the state. As long as you are going in the direction dictated by the activists, everything is cool – and legal.

…some submitters were concerned that parents and whānau could be criminalised for having these conversations. Many submitters also recommended that an exemption should be included for religious groups. We consider that many of these conversations would not meet the criteria for what the bill defines as a “conversion practice” or would be excluded by clauses 5(2)(b) to (f). Accordingly, we do not believe that any additional exemptions are needed or appropriate to meet the purpose of the bill…. We consider that conversations between parents and children would not be criminalised under the offence in clause 8. We believe that the standard for a behaviour to be considered a conversion practice in the bill is appropriately high.

The Select Committee members are completely wrong and are peddling misinformation. FOUR legal opinions written by a leading New Zealand QC, a leading Australian family law expert, the government’s own Ministry of Justice, and Crown Law completely disagree with this assertion. But hey – these politicians know better eh. We saw that during the Select Committee process!
Some submitters who oppose clause 10 said that it would breach a parent’s right to make decisions on behalf of their children. Others in opposition were concerned that clause 10 would interfere with a person’s ability to seek or impart counselling. They argued that removing consent as a defence would breach rights and freedoms guaranteed by the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 (NZBORA)… We do not consider that clause 10 would place an unjustified limit on the rights and freedoms in NZBORA. We note that Crown Law provided advice to the Attorney-General that the bill is consistent with NZBORA.

Yes, but Crown Law advice to the Attorney-General also stated
* “There is no doubt that as expressed the prohibition will extend to activities and communications that occur within families and within religious groupings.”
* “the broad definition of those practices creates the risk that it could extend further, to the exchange of thoughts or opinions about sexuality and gender that occur within the family/whānau or religious groups that do warrant protection and where the limitation could not easily be justified.”
* “The Bill of Rights Act protects both the right to have religious or conscientious beliefs (s 13) and the manifestation of those beliefs (s 15)… It is possible that the conversion practice itself is properly to be seen as a manifestation of the religious belief just described.”
* “there is a potential chilling effect on legitimate expressions of opinion within families/whānau about sexuality and gender”


It’s worth quoting their comments in full. They are a refreshing response to this flawed bill, and nicely sum up the concerns of many parents and leaders in the community (our underlines added):

ACT acknowledges the challenging aspects of this bill. Those seeking advice or instruction on how to convert should be protected to do so safely, as is their right to be free to make decisions about themselves. As law makers, we are also tasked with protecting everyone’s democratic way of life including free speech, religious freedoms, and parental controls. It’s a balancing act.

…[T]he amended version of the bill does not alleviate the concerns that ACT had referred to in our first reading speech: that the role of parents and religious institutions has not been adequately protected enough to ensure that only harmful conversion practices are legislated against. We must all protect free speech without fear of prosecution as long as we speak within the rules of not doing harm. No one should feel the threat of going to jail for praying or for sharing their opinions in discussion with their child. The committee’s amendments have not alleviated those concerns.

There have been no changes made to clause 5 that address the concerns of parents having a conversation with their children about, say, not supporting the use of puberty blockers. The Government believes that the standard it has set is high, that parental conversations should not be captured and use examples from clause 5 again. The default for awkward situations is to give any potential prosecution incident to one person, the Attorney-General, to determine if a charge should be laid against the parents. Parents are rightly concerned about how far the Attorney-General will reach into homes, into family discussions or disagreements to determine what, if any, harm has occurred, and whom to prosecute for it.

There is also concern about removing a person’s own ability to consent to a conversion practice. While ACT does not wish to see anyone harmed in any way and believes that the Crimes Act will take care of any unlawful and unsafe practice, a person must have the freedom to consent, and we do not agree that taking away a person’s right to consent to a prayer-based practice is justified.

ACT believes that everyone should have autonomy over their bodies and that every person should be able to seek out information, assistance, and guidance to ensure that they attain the correct advice and support for all matters. We do not agree with harmful conversion practices taking place. Whenever a person has an important issue to consider, they usually seek out varying views. It is a way of understanding their own true determination. This bill only allows a one-sided conversation to take place and deems everything else as potentially being harmful. The promotion of discussion only runs one way.

ACT are disappointed that the parental and religious concerns of submitters did not bring about substantial changes to the bill, clarifying more precisely that their roles are not prosecutable unless substantially harmful. We do not believe that the much-needed balance has been found.


Sadly, National have decided that they will allow a “conscience vote” on the bill. This is purely to enable the liberal faction of the party (including the leader Chris Luxon) to join the Labour and Green parties in supporting this atrocious bill. I fully support the legislation and I anticipate the vast majority of National MPs will too. I am a proud supporter of the LGBTQI+ community. I want New Zealand to be a country that celebrates and supports diversity, including our rainbow community.”


Watch our FAMILY MATTERS episode (below) which explains the proposed law and its threat to families and community leaders.

The bottom line of this bill – the ultimate goal? Activists want to use the ban to attack the theology of Bible-believing churches. Don’t be fooled. It’s quite obvious what the aim is. As stated above, the irony is that if the bill is passed, conversion therapy will still be legal – but only if you convert people in the direction that the activists want.

We will update you as the bill is rammed through Parliament at speed. (Hey – the Government doesn’t have any more pressing issues like COVID, MIQ, rapid antigen testing, inflation, housing etc etc to solve, does it!)

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