Gay conversion therapy: Kiwi Paul Stevens shares harrowing experience

  • 11/07/2018

New Zealander Paul Stevens has shared his own experience being forced to undergo gay conversion therapy. 

Queer rights advocates are calling on the Government to ban the practice that assumes same sex attraction is some kind of disease - with a cure that can only be administered by the church.

This comes after Prime Minister Theresa May said her government would ban the practice in the United Kingdom, and recent reports show it is widespread in New Zealand.

Mr Stevens was sent to a counsellor when he told his youth pastor he was attracted to men.

"I was only 15, so going along, I wanted to change - I had been brought up to believe it was not okay for me to be gay, so I wanted to be able to change."

Although it's been widely condemned, it's only ever been banned in parts of the US and Australia. Back in the day, conversion used to involve electroshock therapy and chemical castration. 

But today, the methods are more creative - including exorcism.

Mr Stevens says it took a long time before he realised his gay conversion therapy was simply not doing anything except causing him harm.

"It took about three years of being in the closet for me to realise that it wasn't working and that was really hard to step away from that and stop believing I could be healed.

"But it was when I started to meet other people… and started to realise a lot of what I had been told about being gay a lot of it wasn't true."

The fundamental core of the practice is a version of hate speech, he says, and measures do need to be taken to see it outlawed.

He said it was "really concerning" gay conversion therapy still exists in New Zealand.

Watch the full interview with Paul Stevens in the video above.