I couldn't stop having a good chuckle at gay-advocate and Youth MP Shaneel Lal's example of "state-sanctioned torture" on a recent television interview.
First, if you don't know anything about Youth MPs, the parliament website says: "Youth MPs are selected by current MPs to represent them and take on the role of a Member of Parliament as much as possible".
Don't worry, taxpayers probably foot the bill for this exercise of making unelected youth 'representatives' feel important.
Back to this "state-sanctioned torture" – what is it exactly?
This form of torture is 'gay conversion therapy'.
According to Lal, gay conversion therapy "aims to compel an individual to renounce their sexual orientation or gender identity", which he claims is "via manipulative, abusive, hateful and even bizarre practices".
In reality, it seems that gay conversion therapy are programmes run by some Christian churches across the country who attempt to "pray the gay away".
Yes, praying to stop an individual from being gay is what Lal calls "state-sanctioned torture".
If people want to pray – for whatever purpose – let them pray.
No one is forcibly rounding up gay people, holding them down and making them pray.
It is already a crime to unlawfully take away or detain someone – that's called kidnapping in Section 209 of the Crimes Act 1961.
So, if you see any Christians kidnapping gay people, please call 111 immediately.
On the other hand, don't call the cops if you see any adult individual – gay or not – freely going to church to pray for whatever reason.
At the end of the day, if someone wants to try to "pray the gay away", that's up to them, isn't it?
After all, the last time I checked, adult individuals have agency to make their own choices and decisions about their lives, including their sexuality.
Unfortunately, some of our politicians want to interfere in our lives and make choices for us, because in Lal's television interview he said "The Green Party have released a policy that will ban conversion therapy".
Great, that's all we need – the Greenies banning prayers. What's next on their agenda?
On the subject of LGBTQIA+ (yes, the letters are growing), a few weeks ago I wrote about the growing list of genders and gender pronouns.
I pointed out that he (subject pronoun) / him (object pronoun) / his (possessive adjective) / his (possessive pronoun) / himself (reflexive pronoun) and the female equivalents have now been joined by other options, including but not limited to: ze/zir/zir/zirs/zerself; ze/hir/hir/hirs/hirself; ey/em/eir/eirs/emself; ve/ver/vis/vis/verself; ne/nem/nir/nirs/nemself; xe/xem/xyr/xyrs/xemself.
That was not my attempt at writing in German.
I noted that anyone can "create their own pronouns" because it is apparently discriminatory to be labelled with an unwanted pronoun, so I made up my own pronoun: 'zigazig ah'. Tongue-firmly-in-cheek.
Sure, I had a little bit of negative feedback on that one, but much less than I usually get.
In fact, I've had far more positive than negative responses to that piece, including several from lesbian women who are against the new gender pronouns.
For example, one email from a woman who identified herself as lesbian, said: "Transgender women should identify as he/him/his because they are men and not women, they are not women full stop".
Ouch. It seems that there is more than one view on gender pronouns within the LGBTQIA+ community.
I don't care what you call yourself, or whether you fancy men, women, transgenders, or blow-up dolls. Be yourself and be free. Do you.
* - Steve Elers is as an academic at a university in Palmerston North and writes a weekly column on social and cultural issues. His views are his own and do not represent the unnamed university. He can be contacted via his website: www.SteveElers.com