It’s Pride month, and as we celebrate our LGBTIA+ community, we’re taking the next steps towards a more inclusive Aotearoa. From investing in mental health services to banning harmful conversion therapy, we’re building a New Zealand where everyone can be safe, healthy and happy.
Labour has a proud track record of supporting Rainbow New Zealanders, and advancing equal rights. Back in 1985, Labour MP Fran Wilde led the charge on homosexual law reform, and in 2004, the Labour Government’s Civil Union Act was passed. Nine years later, same-sex couples won the right to get married, thanks to a bill introduced by Labour MP Louisa Wall. New Zealand now has the most Rainbow parliament in the world, with Rainbow MPs making up 10% of our parliament.
Over the past three years, we’ve worked hard to continue this legacy and build a better New Zealand for everyone, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation. We’ve passed legislation to wipe historic homosexual convictions, invested in mental health support and HIV research, and lifted the cap on gender confirmation surgeries.
We’ve also committed to introducing legislation to ban conversion therapy this year, and we’re aiming to pass the legislation by this time next year. Conversion therapy is based on the misguided idea that people are wrong or broken because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. It’s been linked to severe adverse mental health issues, including depression, anxiety and suicide, and evidence shows it is relatively common in New Zealand.
Conversion therapy is out of place in the kind, inclusive and modern country we are. It’s time to put an end to this, so more New Zealanders aren’t affected by this harmful practice.
Improving mental health services is another priority for Labour, and it’s another way we’re working to improve the wellbeing of LGBTIA+ New Zealanders. Since coming into Government, we’ve invested a record amount in improving mental health services to make sure everyone can get the support they need, when and where they need it. However, we know that Rainbow New Zealanders experience higher rates of mental health problems and addictions, and that they can also have mixed experience of support from mental health services.
That’s why, this week, we announced we’re investing $4 million over four years into Rainbow youth mental health services. This will mean more young New Zealanders can get the help they need to look after their wellbeing, and we can ensure our diverse communities are well supported.
There is still more to do, and we’re committed to continuing this work, from amending the Human Rights Act to prevent discrimination based on gender identity to making sure our health system is supporting all New Zealanders, no matter what their gender or sexual orientation. We’re proud to support our Rainbow community, and wish everyone around New Zealand a happy Pride!
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