On Monday afternoon Aotearoa lost a Kiwi icon and trailblazer – Georgina Beyer. An amazing woman and an inspiration to many. She will be fondly remembered and sadly missed, not only by New Zealanders, but by discriminated against minorities in many parts of the world. I’ll leave it to others better skilled than I to sing her praises.
Last week, the Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Bill passed the final stage of becoming law in Aotearoa New Zealand It’s pleasing to note that only 7 parliamentarians (all who happen to be members of the centre-right National Party) voted against the passing of this legislation.
So why was the passing of this law a disappointment to many in the autistic and neurodiverse community? The autistic community has borne the brunt of conversion therapy for decades, well before it became a “treatment” for those in the LGBTQI+ community. The practices developed in the “treatment” of autistic people are the very practices prohibited by the new law, but only when it comes to the “treatment” of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Conversion therapy for other “conditions” remains lawful.
During the Select Committee stage of the process, over 100,000 public submissions were received and considered by the Justice Select Committee. I know many autistic, neurodiverse and other minorities made submissions asking for all forms of conversion therapy be banned. It seems we didn’t have the numbers or the persuasive powers necessary for the Select Committee to expand the ban beyond gender identity/expression and sexual orientation.
Reading a random selection of written submissions (78,416 are available on line), it’s pleasing to see that the vast majority of submitters professing a religion supported the ban. What is disappointing is that so few submitters (religious or not) considered how harmful conversion practices can be outside the confines of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression. When you consider that 80% of autistic children who are given conversion therapy in an attempt to make them “appear normal” exhibit symptoms of PTSD as adults, there is urgent need to ban all forms of conversion therapy. Now.
A recent NZ poll surveyed how a range of the attributes of political leaders would affect the party vote of those polled. The attributes in question were sexual orientation, age, ethnicity, gender, union affiliation and religious beliefs.
The ethnicity and gender, were not significant factors for the majority of those polled, whereas age and strong religious beliefs were.
Of a different ethnicity to you
Of the same ethnicity to you
Gay (homosexual or lesbian)
Immigrant to NZ
Strong links to a union
Strong religious beliefs
Over 75 years old
*In some instances the total may not add up to 100 exactly due to rounding
It’s interesting to observe that only 20% of voters would be influenced negatively by a political leader being gay, whereas 48% would be influenced negatively by the leader having strong religious views. It’s pleasing to see that one’s ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation will have little bearing on one’s political standing.
I am surprised by the fact that being an immigrant might affect one’s chances at the polls. We are somewhat more xenophobic than I thought. Thankfully our constitution does not prohibit immigrants standing for the top political job in this country.
I wonder how these results compare to other parts of the world?
The survey was conducted by Research New Zealand using a nationally-representative sample of approximately 500 New Zealanders over 18.