Human Rights Commission Take Control of Conversion Therapy Complaints Process


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People who think they have undergone conversion therapy in New Zealand can now approach the Human Rights Commission for help.

The New Zealand Human Rights Commission has launched a civil redress process for survivors of conversion practices, six months after the landmark Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Act 2022 was finally passed by the New Zealand Parliament.

Conversion practices are any practice that seeks to alter or remove a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. These practices have no therapeutic value or basis in medicine, and there is no evidence that a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity can be changed.

The Commission offers a free, confidential and impartial dispute resolution process to survivors of conversion practices.

Conversion practice support services manager Andre Afamasaga said that sometimes people don’t realize they’ve been subjected to conversion practices until after the fact.

“Our service is a formal way to address some of the deep harms suffered by the rainbow community of Aotearoa in New Zealand under the guise of conversion practices,” Afamasaga said.

“It provides an avenue to acknowledge the experiences of survivors and an opportunity to turn the page. It will help a lot to start healing and moving forward from their experiences.

Matt Langworthy speaking at the launch, he is a survivor and the lived experience advisor on the Conversion Practices Response Team who developed the survival strategy that underpins the service.  (Provided)
Matt Langworthy speaking at the launch, he is a survivor and the lived experience advisor on the Conversion Practices Response Team who developed the survival strategy that underpins the service. (Provided)

The Commission service will help people understand what a conversion practice is and the support available to them. It could also put them in contact with the police, with their consent, if the situation reached the threshold of a criminal offence.

“If your complaint is not resolved during our dispute resolution process, you can go to the Human Rights Review Tribunal which can issue findings and orders. You can request free legal representation from the Office of Human Rights Procedures.

“This is an important step, and it will help victims of conversion practices to access justice,” Afamasaga said.

Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt has applauded the movement of groups and individuals who have campaigned tirelessly to end conversion practices.

“I very much welcome the government funding for the establishment of this service, and the feedback we’ve heard from survivors and the sector underscores the need for continued funding beyond this initial period,” Hunt said.

“This also includes targeted funding for psychosocial support. Currently, survivors of conversion practices must pay for these services themselves.

“I am proud of the hard work our team has done to inspire communities to create a meaningful, people-focused service that is accessible to everyone across the country.

Leilani Thompson-Rikys speaking at the launch, as a survivor and peer support coordinator at Outline.  (Provided)
Leilani Thompson-Rikys speaking at the launch, as a survivor and peer support coordinator at Outline. (Provided)

The Commission also has an important role to play in educating and preventing conversion practices over the next year.

“We want to build relationships and understand how to support the education of religious, cultural and family communities. The goal is to help people fully understand the harm caused by conversion practices and how they can support its elimination,” Afamasaga said.

“Our goal is to help community spaces become safer for members who also identify as rainbow, takatāpui or LGBTQIA+. The Commission welcomes contacts from all groups who wish to join us in the journey towards that future. »

Anyone in New Zealand who believes they have experienced conversion practices or has questions about conversion practice legislation is encouraged to contact the Commission on 0800 496 877 or email [email protected] for more information.

For more information, visit the website here.

Last updated August 23, 2022

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