National MP Nicola Willis questions difference between gay conversion therapy and counselling

A National MP says she wouldn't want a proposed ban on gay conversion therapy to impact on people's "freedoms in other areas".

Nicola Willis appeared on Newshub Nation's Facebook Live on Friday to talk about a number of issues including early childhood education, her leadership ambitions and free speech.

In a section on conscience issues, she was asked if she would vote in favour of banning gay conversion therapy.

"I guess the key question is, how do you know if it's gay conversion therapy or if it's just counselling? Because coming out is a big deal and people often do need support," she said.

Gay conversion therapy is the practise of trying to change someone's sexuality and there is no scientific evidence that it is effective.

When Ms Willis was asked a second time whether she was in favour of gay conversion therapy being banned she answered: "I suppose so, but the question would be how do you actually do that?"

"What would the law look like? If it would stop people having freedoms in other areas then I'd be pretty uncomfortable."

When pressed on how banning gay conversion therapy could impact on other people's freedoms she questioned the definition of the practise.

"There is the question of what counts as gay conversion therapy?"

"In what situations are we going to have someone walking into the room between two people and saying ‘that's gay conversion therapy and you're not allowed to do that," she said.

"There are some questions, I think, about how you would regulate it and the control that would be required in order to enforce it."

Ms Willis said she would have voted in favour of gay marriage had she been an MP.

Two petitions calling for gay conversion therapy to be banned were delivered to Parliament on Wednesday. They had a combined total of more than 20,000 signatures.

The petitions said the therapy dangerous and harmful to the rainbow community.

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