Parliament this evening passed a bill to ban conversion therapy at its second reading, with now just seven MPs, all from the National Party, opposing.
The bill will make it illegal to try to change someone's sexuality or gender identity, known as "conversion therapy".
Speaking during the debate, Labour MP Glen Bennett said he was "too scared" to come out to his family as a child and believes legislation to ban conversion therapy will promote healthy conversations, rather than limiting free speech.
In response to comments from Act and National MPs that the bill could limit free speech and criminalise parents, Bennett said he believed it would do the opposite.
"I just wish that my parents could have had those conversations with me, they never could.
"I never came out to them. Because I was too scared because I learned... love the sinner, hate the sin."
Labour, Act, the Green Party and Te Pāti Māori all continued their support from the first reading.
National voted against the bill as a bloc at first reading, but recently changed its tune to allow MPs to vote individually. Tonight 26 National MPs voted in favour.
National Party justice spokesman Paul Goldsmith said he would vote for the bill, but remained concerned at the "breadth and looseness of the language" in the bill.
It was not just about "praying the gay away" and was broader about gender identity, he said.
Primarily, he said, he was concerned it could criminalise parents or caregivers speaking with their children about these issues, for example where they might be considering medical interventions as part of a gender transition.
"We are talking about potentially life-changing medical procedures," Goldsmith said, comparing it to discussions around people donating kidneys.
Goldsmith would introduce supplementary order papers requesting clarity.
MP Simon O'Connor said he would vote against the bill, arguing it was too broad in its language, limited free speech and difficult to understand.
Midway through Justice Minister Kris Faafoi interjected: "It'd help if you'd read it."
O'Connor said he had, and that was the problem.
He had "lesbian and gay friends" who were concerned about the bill, and it went further than conversion therapy.
National MPs Mark Mitchell, Matt Doocey and Joseph Mooney spoke during the debate in support of the bill.
Supporters of the bill have argued excluding parents would neuter the bill completely, given it is often parents who are trying to put their children through conversion therapy in the first place.
The bill puts a check on the prosecutions of parents by requiring any decision to prosecute someone for trying to "convert" a minor to go through the Attorney-General first.
At select committee, this check came under attack from both sides. The select committee noted supporters of the legislation feared it would create an unnecessary barrier for prosecution, meaning the law might not be enforced as much as it should be.
The bill defines conversion therapy as any "practice, sustained effort, or treatment".
The bill also explicitly excludes "assisting an individual who is undergoing, or considering undergoing, a gender transition" and "providing acceptance, support, or understanding of an individual", or "facilitating an individual's coping skills".
The select committee has also advised that explicit examples of conversion therapy be included in the bill.
Act had voted in favour of the bill at first reading, but voiced strong criticism, in particular concerns it could lead to parents being prosecuted.
The Government says the section of the bill which defines a conversion practice would exclude a conversation between parent and child.
Justice spokeswoman Nicole McKee said Act's 10 MPs remained concerned about this issue, but would back the bill in its second reading.
McKee said they wanted parents specifically exempt in the bill, and a three-yearly review.
Labour MP Vanushi Walters challenged the idea free speech was under attack, stating "free speech has never been absolute".
Examples included defamation laws, perjury, false advertising, obscenity, solicitation of a crime, and the Harmful Digital Communication Act.
Green Party MP and rainbow spokeswoman Elizabeth Kerekere spoke to the record 107,000 submissions they received, with 69 per cent in support. There were 837 oral submissions over 18 hearings.
However, even those who opposed the bill were still opposed to the practice of conversion therapy, she said.
"That is a huge indication of where our country has moved to."
Te Pāti Māori co-leaders Rawiri Waititi and Debbie Ngarewa-Packer voted in favour and tweeted: "This cruel practice is a direct attack on whakapapa and has no place in Aotearoa.
"Takatāpui are whānau. No ifs, no buts, no maybes. End of story."
The bill creates two new criminal offences for either the most serious cases of harm or where there is heightened risk of harm. The bill also creates a pathway for civil redress.
Under the bill, it will be an offence to perform conversion practices on a child or young person aged under 18, or on someone with impaired decision-making capacity. Such offences would be subject to up to three years' imprisonment.
Labour promised ahead of the 2020 election to ban conversion practices, and a petition Kerekere launched in February 2021 accumulated 157,764 signatures in a matter of days.
The bill now heads to another committee stage where any proposed amendments are debated before its third reading, after which it obtains Royal assent and becomes law.
Labour 65; National 26; Green Party 10; Act 10; Te Paati Māori 2.
National 7 - Simon Bridges, Simeon Brown, Melissa Lee, Simon O'Connor, Shane Reti, Louise Upston and Michael Woodhouse.