Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister of New Zealand, has committed to banning the traumatising practice of conversion therapy and to reintroducing a gender self-identification bill if she is re-elected
New Zealand’s October 17 election is fast approaching, and Ardern, 40, has committed her Labour party to a ban on conversion therapy, something she failed to implement during her first term as prime minister.
In an interview with LGBT+ publication Express, Ardern said: “This is a prime example of where an element of our system allows for quite damaging activity, which in modern NZ should just not be happening.”
She said that her failure to pass a country-wide bill banning conversion therapy during her first term was due to New Zealand’s mixed-member proportional (MMP) electoral system, meaning that her party does not govern alone.
Ardern added: “We need numbers in the house to pass legislation. So what I’m committing to is, if we are able to form a government this will be on our agenda.
“I will commit our numbers to delivering this and I hope there will other parties in parliament who will support it.
“If New Zealand delivers a parliament that doesn’t give us those numbers, I will do what I can to still get it over the line, regardless.”
Jacinda Arden had her eyes opened by a conversion therapy film.
Jacinda Ardern explained that one of the ways her eyes were opened to conversion therapy, which has often been described as torture, was watching the film Latter Days starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
The 2003 film tells the story of a relationship between a closeted Mormon missionary and his openly gay neighbour, and Ardern said: “That film never left me. It’s one of the reasons I feel quite strongly about this policy.”
The New Zealand native was raised as a Mormon herself, a religion which holds staunch anti-LGBT+ views and continues to oppose same-sex marriage.
During her 2017 general election campaign, Ardern spoke about how she came to reject the church and support LGBT+ rights, in solidarity with queer friends.
New Zealand PM vows to reintroduce gender self-ID bill.
Jacinda Arden also promised that if she is re-elected an amendment to the Births, Deaths & Marriage act, commonly known as the gender self-ID bill, will be reintroduced.
The bill would create a less intrusive and simpler process for trans Kiwis to change their gender on documents like birth certificates and driving licenses.
During Arden’s first term the bill was raised but then shelved. She explained that “there was a question mark around whether the legislation faced the risk of being challenged because it had not gone through a select committee process”, which “could cause a long debate, legal uncertainty and ultimately quite a distressing situation”.
She said a working group had been established with members of the trans community, to help the government “get it right”.
She added: “Working through the legislative framework to get it right is worth the time. And is ultimately how we will bring everyone together.”