New Zealand ‘conversion therapist’ vows to continue despite ban


david riddell new zealand conversion therapy conversion practices ban living wisdom school counsellor
Image: Harmony Church/YouTube

A New Zealand Christian counsellor has vowed to continue offering LGBT “conversion” therapy to queer people to “repair and reawaken their heterosexuality” despite the country’s national ban.

“Conversion therapy” refers to debunked and dangerous practices attempting to change or suppress a person’s sexuality or gender identity. New Zealand passed a bill outlawing the practices in February this year.

But despite the ban, David Riddell (pictured) of the Living Wisdom School in New Zealand says he won’t stop offering the pseudoscientific practices, Radio New Zealand reported.

Riddell claimed those who’ve chosen to live a “same-sex lifestyle” have only done so under “severe emotional duress”.

“If a person who is a heavy drinker or grossly obese can take themselves to Alcoholics Anonymous or to WeightWatchers and seek help to successfully reconcile the discordant urges within, why can’t the person conflicted with unwanted same-sex attraction go to a counsellor and seek the same help?” he said.

“Alcoholics Anonymous and WeightWatchers are applauded by society. But to my mind their goals to help are not different from what any carefully-trained counsellor wants to offer the gender-confused.”

Riddell criticised New Zealand’s conversion practices ban for targeting his “humanitarian” work “repairing and reawakening heterosexuality” in queer New Zealanders.

“Contrary to what the gay juggernaut would have you believe, not everyone who experiences same-sex attraction welcomes it,” he said.

“I have many clients who will attest to that, I do not seek these people out – they find me.”

Counsellors must ‘do no harm’

But NZ Association of Counsellors president Christine Macfarlane warned conversion practices are “harmful behaviour” with clear negative effects.

“There’s much international research that trying to change somebody in any way in regard to their cultural, gender or sexual identity is harmful,” Macfarlane told Radio New Zealand.

“[Conversion practices] lead to psychological distress, suicidality, mental health disorders.”

David Riddell is not registered with the New Zealand Association of Counsellors or the New Zealand Christian Counsellors Association, Radio New Zealand reported.

Macfarlane said registered counsellors have a clear stance of ethics and behaviour, with one foundational value to “do no harm”.

“As counsellors, we go into counselling to help and support and increase wellbeing. [That’s] completely opposite to what conversion therapy does,” she said.

“I’d encourage anyone in the public who knows of [conversion practices] to make a complaint to the Health and Disabilities Commissioner. They will investigate and there will be consequences to this.”

New Zealand MPs speak about surviving ‘conversion’ practices

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s government first introduced legislation to ban the practices last year.

The bill passed 112 votes to 8 in February. It legislated penalties for those conducting “conversion” practices on children, vulnerable people, or causing “serious harm” to anyone.

Before the vote, New Zealand MP Kiri Allan revealed she survived conversion practices as a 16-year-old.

“I went through conversion therapy – it wasn’t called that, but that’s what it was – through my church,” she said.

“I desperately tried to ‘pray the gay’ away to get acceptance from my family, community and church.

“My ‘illness’ and ‘weakness’ to temptation was etched as sin into my skin. It took a long time to shake that shame and trauma.”

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