Gay conversion therapy Bill enters member's ballot lottery

The practice of gay or gender conversion therapy could be banned in New Zealand, if enough politicians throw their support behind a new Bill.

But just getting cross-government awareness could prove a challenge.

Nelson-based David Riddell says homosexuality is learned, labelling it "a sexual addiction." For $200 an hour, he says he can help clients unlearn homosexuality.

But people like Paul Stevens, who have been through attempted conversion therapy, say it has damaging and lasting effects.

"[The] counsellor who I was talking with would tell me what I was feeling wasn't that I was gay, but that it was confusion."

Paul was 16 - and the counselling was through his church.

"It was very up and down; there was sometimes I was thinking I was able to be healed and I was overcoming these feelings I was having as a teenager," he recounts.

"That was also met by really low periods, where I wasn't able to get over the feelings I was having."

A new Labour party member, Marja Lubek, has put forward a Bill aiming to ban the practice.

"This sort of practice does harm to people, and it doesn't do any good. In fact, it makes the job for practitioners harder because they see a lot of harm that they have to undo."

Mr Riddell says it's an attack on free speech.

"This is a terrible day for free speech - it will make of me a criminal, even though I'm working on behalf of my client."

If the Bill is to pass, politicians first need a basic understanding of what it is. Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters says he's never thought about it.

National leader Simon Bridges says he doesn't know a lot about it, and there needs to be a case laid out.

As for the Prime Minister? She believes a range of views need to be heard.

"I will be interested to see what they come up with," Jacinda Ardern said.

If it wanted to, the Government could adopt this Bill and swiftly ban the practice, which is widely condemned by therapists.

But instead it's left to one MP and the member's ballot lottery, and may never see the light of day.