Andrew Little has hit back at a suggestion that banning conversion therapy should not be a priority for the Labour Party this election, after the Government declared it would put an end to the pseudoscientific practice if reelected.
On Monday night, the Justice Minister shared a rainbow-themed post promoting Labour's election promise to ban conversion therapy - a supposed remedial treatment to convert an individual's sexual orientation to heterosexual using psychological or physical interventions.
The party had revealed its pledge to ban conversion therapy in an earlier announcement on Monday, as well as declaring its commitment to helping schools install gender-neutral bathrooms.
"So-called 'conversion therapy' is not a real thing. LGBT Kiwis are perfect just the way they are," Little captioned the post.
Despite an overwhelmingly positive reception from his Facebook following, one user wasn't enthused.
"Why do you think this is one of the most pressing issues with NZ at the moment, don't you think priorities [should] be back on getting our economy going?" they asked.
The minister retorted: "When is the economically ideal time to stop torturing people for existing?"
The comment, which has amassed more than 1200 likes at the time of writing, delighted social media commentators.
"[They're] gonna need some ice for that burn mate!" one joked.
"As the parent of a child who is beginning to transition, I salute you and the government's efforts at inclusion. That was a grand burn too," said another.
"Good to know governments can tackle multiple issues at the same time. Most do," a third quipped.
In 2019, a spokesperson for Living Wisdom School of Counselling told 1 News that 20 to 30 people had their heterosexuality "restored" through its services. Rainbow Youth, a New Zealand queer youth organisation, also become aware of hundreds of conversion therapy survivors in Auckland alone.
In 2018, TVNZ's Sunday programme investigated the prevalence of conversion therapy in New Zealand, finding the contentious treatment was a mere Google search away for parents who were interested in subjecting their LGBT+ children to the practice.
Along with banning conversion therapy, Labour has also promised to invest $4 million into existing LGBT+ youth mental health services; ensure services are more responsive for transgender, intersex and gender-diverse New Zealanders; and remove discriminatory practices from adoption and surrogacy policies.