‘Conversion Therapy’ Bill Will Restrict Personal Autonomy – Legal Notice
Family First NZ posted a legal opinion on the bill banning the “conversion therapy” bill which says the bill will have a “chilling effect” on free speech regarding gender issues and will fail in its stated purpose of promoting respectful and open discussions about sexuality and gender.
by Grant Illingworth QC also warns that parent guidance and advice could be taken into account if expressed in words or behavior, that conversion “practice” could easily include teaching, counseling and counseling. prayer for someone, and that there is a risk of serious disruption within religious communities including Muslim and Christian denominations which will be important and substantial.
The opinion says that if it is adopted, “The bill would undoubtedly restrict personal autonomy”, and that
“At the root of many of the rights and freedoms affirmed by the Bill of Rights Act is the ability of individuals to decide their own fate without state interference, except as provided by law.” He rightly wonders whether the proposed restriction is
“Clearly justified in a free and democratic society”.
As for a parent telling their child that they cannot use puberty blockers, wear chest belts, or identify as the opposite sex, the opinion says that “The definition of ‘conversion practice’ is a moot point. But if providing parental guidance is a “practice,” then the conduct described above would fall within the proposed restrictions and constitute a criminal offense against a person under the age of 18, if the bill is enacted.
The notice also says:
- The effect of the bill
“Could represent a significant interference with ‘the right to manifest a person’s religion or belief in worship, observance, practice or teaching either individually or in community with others, and in public or in private ‘affirmed by section 15 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990’.
- “If prayer and counseling were to be classified as a ‘practice’ then the conduct of the religious leader or counselor could fall under Articles 8 or 9.”
- In a warning to religious leaders,
“It would be very easy for a preacher or teacher to inadvertently overstep the bar on a subject like this …” (for example
“Urge others to“ repent of their sins ”)… It would also be very easy for a person who hears such a preaching or teaching to take the problem personally and complain that the message was intended for him. The risk of serious disturbances within religious communities is therefore significant and substantial.
- If a person wishes to align their sexuality or gender with the teachings and values of their faith and seeks help in doing so from a teacher, counselor, or church pastor, “the person would invite the teacher, counselor or pastor of the church to engage in a conversion practice which would be illegal and could be criminal in certain circumstances.”
- The opinion notes that “[I]It should be remembered that one of the stated objectives of the proposed legislation is to “promote respectful and open discussions regarding sexuality and gender”. If enacted into law, and even if a narrow interpretation of “conversion practices” were accepted by the courts, the proposed legislation would almost certainly have a profound “chilling effect” on freedom of expression on gender issues. Some people would be afraid to speak up, or to put forward strong opinions, for fear of being sued or being the subject of a claim for damages under human rights law. 1993. The idea that the proposed legislation would promote respectful and open discussions about sexuality is therefore difficult to accept, despite the limited exceptions in subsection 5 (2).
The new legal opinion is consistent with legal opinions that the government has already received. The Department of Justice’s own analysis of the bill
sent a clear warning: “It would be a criminal offense for parents, or other members of a family, to attempt to alter or suppress the sexual orientation, gender identity or expression of children within the family.” Crown counsel also refers to this “cooling”Effect on expressions of opinion within families & whanau.
Requests under the Official Information Act show that in 2018, Julie Anne Genter, then Minister for Health and Green MP, was advised by the Ministry of Health: “Due to the protections currently in place and the need to balance the rights of individuals with the prevention of harm, it is not recommended that a legislative ban on conversion therapy be the most effective way to reduce harm. damage it causes … ” The ministerial opinion also notes that people have the freedom to engage in practice voluntarily, that protections already exist in the health sector, and that a ban “could be inconsistent “ with the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 ”which provides for the rights of assembly, freedom of expression and the rights to freedom of religion”.
In 2019, the Justice Select Committee, made up of Labor and national MPs, considered two petitions to ban ‘conversion therapy’. In their report, they rightly refused to support such a ban, stating:
“The Bill of Rights Act affirms, protects and promotes human rights and fundamental freedoms in New Zealand. It enables all New Zealanders to live without discrimination, including with regard to their sexual orientation. New Zealanders also have the right to freedom of religion. This protects those who offer and seek conversion therapy because of their religious views. “
A national survey earlier this year also found that there is widespread public opposition to the legal effects of a ban on “conversion therapy”. 81% of those surveyed said they believe a person should be able to seek psychological support to determine their own direction if they are unsure of their sexual orientation or gender identity. 81% said it shouldn’t be a crime for a parent to tell their daughter she is a girl or her son that he is a boy. And only 16% think it should be a crime for a religious leader to teach a biblical or Koranic view of sexuality and gender determined at birth. In all three questions, there was no significant difference in responses based on gender, age, region, socio-economic factors, or support for political parties.
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