National | Judith Collins

National the only party to vote against conversion therapy

New Zealand just celebrated 35 years since the passing of the Homosexual Law Reform that decriminalised consensual, sexual relations between men. Now in 2021, whether or not it's okay to pray the gay away is the topic of debate.

National is sticking to its guns on the Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Bill, saying it is sticking up for those who could be potentially criminalised by the bill.

On Thursday, National was the only party to vote against the bill, which passed its first stage thanks to the government's large caucus, which means it now goes to select committee.

Labour ministers are saying they are disappointed by National's decision.

However, National says 'there is considerable uncertainty over some aspects of the bill.

To be considered a conversion practice under the bill it would have to be directed towards someone because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, and performed with the intention of changing or suppressing their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

National found too much fault with the bill to support it at the first reading.

National MP Matt Doocey said there was some concern over the possible prosecution of parents.

"The bill as it's currently drafted is not as it should be, " National MP Harete Hipango says.

"This bill is complicated, there are some issues with it and we decided a different path," National MP Erica Stanford says.

But Labour MP and cabinet minister Kiritapu Allen says she is really disappointed that "decision-makers in this day and age have decided to take that position," while fellow cabinet minister Willie Jackson says National's issue on the position is wrong.

Green MP Elizabeth Kerekere says sexual fluidity has always been part of the Māori culture.

"Research has shown that pre-colonial time and prior to the arrival of missionaries, takatāpui was a normal part of life."

The bill that has been lobbied for by thousands of New Zealanders will be debated in a select committee, where the public will have their say.