Youth MP's call for gay conversion therapy ban exposes homophobic underbelly

A Youth MP has received abuse - including threats of violence - after calling on the Government to ban gay and gender conversion therapy.

"To this day, it is completely legal to torture someone about their sexuality in the name of conversion therapy," Youth MP Shaneel Lal said in a speech in Parliament. 

"In fact, it is now widely practised by religious organizations to push forward their bigoted agenda... where young people are hammered with the idea that homosexuality is a disease."

His speech resonated online, but also exposed a racist, homophobic underbelly. 

One person made a death threat against gay people and said "white people rule", while another person said Lal should "repent headed to Hell". 

"As someone who is not a conventional member of society, you know if you speak up about your rights people are not going to be happy about it," Lal told Newshub. 

"I did feel bad about them, but I knew other young people were facing this and I had to fight, regardless."

MPs themselves have faced abuse too, from death threats online against Green MP Golriz Ghahraman, to physical violence against Greens co-leader James Shaw. 

The controversial practice of gay conversion therapy has affected the likes of Ryan Curran-Pacquing, who grew up in a conservative Christian environment. 

"For pretty much my whole life it's been told to me that homosexuality is a sin," he told Newshub. 

When he was 19, Ryan went to a Christian counsellor for conversion therapy and they attempted to pray away his homosexuality. 

"I was told that if I prayed enough and read my Bible enough, then God would heal me of this disease. I also encountered praying - laying of hands and casting out of demons and that sort of thing."

There's currently a Members' Bill that would ban gay and gender conversion therapy, sponsored by first-term Labour MP Marja Lubek. 

Members' Bills are notoriously difficult to pass. They first need to be pulled from the ballot. But the Government could always adopt the Bill itself. 

"I would love the Government to adopt the Bill I have in the ballot, but we have a lot of work on our plate," Lubeck told Newshub. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she will be "watching with interest".