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New Zealand Passes Law Banning Gay Conversion Therapy

New Zealand's parliament has passed legislation that bans conversion therapy intended to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity forcibly.

Ending conversion therapy was a promise that New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, declared during her successful second term campaign last year.

Conversion therapy is aimed at permanently changing a person's sexual orientation, gender identity or expression and has been documented to vary in extremes. 

It can include talk therapy, hypnosis, fasting, electric shocks and, in extreme cases, has been documented to include 'exorcisms' and "corrective rape". 

Under the legislation, it will be an offence to perform conversion practices on persons under 18 years old or someone with impaired decision-making capacity. Doing so would carry a sentence of up to three years in prison.

Furthermore, practices carried out on anyone irrespective of age — where the methods have caused serious harm, will carry sentences of up to five years imprisonment.

"This is a great day for New Zealand's rainbow communities," Minister of Justice Kris Faafoi said. "Conversion practices have no place in modern New Zealand."

The government legislation also lays out what is not a conversion practice. It protects the right to express opinions, beliefs, religious beliefs, or principles that are not intended to change or suppress a person's sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.