The co-founder and leader of End Conversion Therapy Shaneel Lal received death threats following the win yesterday to ban conversion therapy.
Lal said this morning they awoke to a threatening message on their doorstep, a note which said: "hang yourself".
Lal told the Herald after yesterday's success, they burned the note and sat back embracing the victory that has been "long hard fought for" instead. Although Lal has received threatening messages, it has been drowned with support across the country.
The call to ban conversion therapy across New Zealand passed its third reading yesterday, with a total of 112 MPs who were in favour.
It included the entire Labour Party, Act, the Green Party and Te Pāti Māori.
The majority of National were in favour, however eight National MPs opposed the bill, including Simon Bridges, Simeon Brown, Melissa Lee, Todd McClay, Simon O'Connor, Chris Penk, Michael Woodhouse and Dr Shane Reti.
"I am very confident that I speak for the queer community – we do not want the National MPs who voted against banning conversion therapy to come back to pride ever again. They're not welcome, do not come," Lal told the Herald.
"We always expected Simon Bridges to oppose. He's the same guy who voted against same sex marriage and voted against conversion therapy two times. We don't trust Simon Bridges."
Lal has campaigned and pushed for an end to conversion therapy for the last five years. They first brought the issue to Parliament in a moving speech in 2019, urging leaders to get onto it.
Lal's first experience of conversion therapy was during voluntary work at Middlemore Hospital at the age of 17 when a pastor approached them to "pray the gay away".
"I couldn't believe New Zealand allowed this practice. So, I told myself that I can, I must and I will ban conversion therapy."
"And last night, we did."
The bill, which will come into effect in six months, 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.
Lal told the Herald that despite this progress, "it does not go far enough".
"Banning conversion therapy is not the same as ending conversion therapy. My goal is to end it."
The ban imposes criminalisation which Lal claims is not the appropriate approach.
Lal who is also known for their influential advocacy for indigenous queer communities, states that homophobia is unfortunately more pervasive in Pasifika communities as a result of colonisation.
"The criminal justice system also disproportionately affects Māori and Pacific communities."
"We've now introduced a new crime that targets homophobia and transphobia, so this will impact our communities."
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, and up to five years where it has caused serious harm, irrespective of age. The Attorney-General will need to give consent for those prosecutions.
However, Lal applauds Labour whose MPs were all in favour of the bill as the party holds the most Māori and Pasifika Members in Parliament. Lal says this sends a positive message to queer Māori and Pasifika people.
Among them is Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito Williams Sio who originally voted against same-sex marriage but had a change of heart when he decided to support the ban.
"I am following my heart, and in this case I want to see our Pacific communities thrive and prosper, including the Pacific rainbow plus community," Sio told the Herald.
"At the end of the day they are members of our families. As leaders of our families, we must constantly reach out and build bridges of understanding and respect one another's human rights."
"Young people are often made to feel unwanted, unloved and discarded.
"This legislation hopefully gives them a sense of confidence that the law recognises them as human beings deserving of love and protection, that they have the freedom to be who they are and to be confident in their own identity."
Lal says there is now a clear for medical professionals, health professionals, community workers, youth workers and parents.
"Conversion therapy is unethical according to medical and psychological bodies across New Zealand."
"When a queer person comes to you and tells you that they are struggling with their identity, do not tell them that they need to change. Tell them who they are and what they're feeling is valid. Provide care that is affirming of their gender and sexuality."
"What we need to be honest about is that conversion therapy does not work and causes irreparable harm."
"There are people who are convinced that conversion therapy is the only option, that's just a reflection of the kind of country we're living in."
"We are going to sit back and enjoy this victory that has been hard fought for. We are not broken and we do not need to be fixed."
It was an emotional third reading and debate for many rainbow MPs of Parliament.
Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said he had grown up in a religious household during the era of homosexual law reform.
Robertson spoke of a friend, James, who was met with "anger, rejection and derision", and ultimately took his own life.
"To James and the many like him from all parts of rainbow community ... this legislation is for you," Robertson said.
Robertson said he acknowledged for some the bill did not go far enough in terms of penalties, but "got the balance right".
Fellow Labour MP and Minister of Conservation Kiri Allan also revealed she went through conversion therapy at 16 through her church.
"It took a long time to shake that shame and trauma. Tonight our Parliament will ensure this practice is banned in our country for good.
"For our next generation of babies, I am so incredibly relieved. Thank you to everyone that championed this change."
Up to 107,000 submissions were made from the public in support of banning conversion therapy, alongside a petition which received 157,764 signatures in a matter of days.
"Religious extremists might say that this is the end of the world, but I can assure them that this is only the beginning," Lal said.