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Submission on Conversion Not-A-Therapy Bill

9 September 2021 4 comments

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To Parliament, Justice Committee:

Please consider my submission to the Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Bill (2021).

Whilst Conversion “Therapy”* does not affect me as I am a cis heterosexual male-identifying person, it disturbs me that a practice that has no basis in science is being carried out against some of my fellow New Zealanders.

The issue of sexual orientation and identification is a complex matter that we still have much to learn about. Just as homosexuality was once illegal and considered a “perversion”, we now accept that sexual orientation is a facet of human nature. To attempt to change this through a practice that would seem more appropriate in the Medieval Ages, defies logic.

To implement a process euphemistically called “therapy” to change a person’s core being would be a pathway to deep psychological harm

It would be like attempting to change my own sexuality.

I do not understand how a person’s core being can be “converted”. Not without consequential harm to that person.

Consent cannot be a factor. For young people who are going through troubling times of adolescence and uncertainty, any attempt to “convert” a person to rigidly accepted “norms” would most likely be damaging to them in the long term.

It would be a re-play of Lake Alice “therapies” that have left so many people permantly damaged for life.

I see little difference between the state-sanctioned “therapies” of former Lake Alice patients and current practices involving conversion.

I therefore endorse section 5/2, which states:

However, conversion practice does not include—
(a) a health service provided by a health practitioner in accordance with the practitioner’s scope of practice; or
(b) assisting an individual who is undergoing, or considering undergoing, a gender transition; or
(c) assisting an individual to express their gender identity; or
(d) providing acceptance, support, or understanding of an individual; or
(e) facilitating an individual’s coping skills, development, or identity exploration, or facilitating social support for the individual; or
(f) the expression only of a religious principle or belief made to an individual that is not intended to change or suppress the individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

Any acceptable therapy should involve a person’s journey for self-understanding and acceptance – not attempting to deviate their life from whatever path nature has alloted them. In effect conversion “therapy” creates and forces a lie onto a person; a self-deception; denying their true self.

I further submit that opposition to this Bill is mainly from a minority of chauvinists. They include TERFs (trans exclusionary radical “feminists”) – or “gender critics” as some call themselves now – who operate under the banner of the so-called “Speak up for women (SUFW).

This group’s primary and sole agenda is to deny the validity of transgender people. Many of their fear-tactics (“stranger danger in public toilets and changing rooms”) are a hostile re-play of the homophobic rhetoric from 1986, when the Homosexual Law Reform Bill was passing through Parliament.

Other opponants have a religious basis. Whilst people are free to believe in whatever deity they wish, pushing Conversion “therapy” goes beyond what is considered parameters for free speech: they actively seek to impress their views onto another human being.

This is be dystopian-future stuff.

I cannot subscribe to religious adherents having a “free pass” to force their beliefs onto another human being. We oppose this with the Taliban in Afghanistan in their treament of women; or LGBTQI+ in Iran, Saudi Arabia, et al, and we must do likewise for our own home-grown religious fundamentalists.

Otherwise we are not consistent.

Nature is diverse with sex. Far from being the binary Male/Female many TERFs and Fundamentalists maintain, there are many examples of sex-changing animals on this planet. I encourage Parliamentarians to do some basic research on sex/gender-fluid animals; they would be surprised how common it is.

The most common is the New Zealand fish, commonly known as the “Spotty”:

https://www.nzherald.co.nz/bay-of-plenty-times/news/spotty-fish-sex-change-has-potential-in-science/3UTTI2KQFVBG4SFD5JOFVWCPQ4/

https://www.insidescience.org/news/duplicate-genes-let-these-fish-switch-sex

Other animals also have sexual/gender fluidity:

https://www.inverse.com/science/animals-can-change-their-sex

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/frogs-reverse-sex-more-often-than-thought

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/sequential-hermaphroditism

We are not fish. But we are free to be who we are.

But regardless, human sexuality is more complex. There are more than just ‘XX’ and ‘XY’ sexes, as this tutorial shows:

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So any notion of a strict binary sexuality is a narrow human preconception, and denies the real diversity of Nature.

We once used to believe that only heterosexuality was the “norm”. Anything else was thought to be “abnormal”; a “perversion”. I thought we had outgrown such narrow chauvinism. The argument surrounding Conversion “therapy” is a replay of many of those same arguments, attempting to re-litigate the validity of our cousins in the Rainbow community.

People can believe whatever they want. But pushing beliefs onto others because their god told them, or because their hold narrow views on binary sexuality is not acceptable.

We would not countenance “converting” a person to homosexuality. I fail to see the difference in attempting to convert someone to heterosexuality (or any other orientation).

I urge all fair-minded Parliamentarians to consider that male homosexuality was once illegal and men were imprisoned for their orientation. We now recognise that was wrong. On the 6th of July 2017, Parliament formally apologised to homosexual men for the gross injustice meted out to them by the State:

“That this House apologise to those homosexual New Zealanders who were convicted for consensual adult activity, and recognise the tremendous hurt and suffering those men and their families have gone through, and the continued effects the convictions have had on them.” – Motion of apology, 6 June 2017

https://www.parliament.nz/en/get-involved/features/house-unanimously-apologises-for-historical-persecution-of-homosexual-men/

If Parliament supports banning of Conversion “Therapy”, it will avert the need for another apology in the future for harm caused to LGBTQI+ through this odious practice. If we’ve learned our lesson the first time, a second injustice need not occur.

I commend Parliament for progressing the Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Bill.

If the Select Committee has questions, I will be available for questions and answers.

Frank Macskasy

* The term “Therapy” is a dishonest mis-nomer. There is nothing therapeutic about this .

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References

Legislation: Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Bill

Other Blogs

Boots Theory: End conversion therapy in Aotearoa

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