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Canada takes a second shot at banning LGBT+ ‘conversion therapy’

Canada takes a second shot at banning LGBT+ ‘conversion therapy’

  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the so-called ‘therapies’ are ‘harmful, degrading, and have no place in Canada’.
Justin Trudeau at Pride in 2018.

Canada is making a fresh attempt to ban LGBT+ ‘conversion therapy’, reintroducing a bill into its parliament.

The legislation previously stalled when parliament shut down in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However Federal Minister of Justice David Lametti said the new bill will amend Canada’s Criminal Code to include a list of ‘conversion therapy’ offenses.

These include causing a minor to undergo ‘conversion therapy’, causing any person to undergo the ‘therapy’ against their will, and profiting off from the practice.

Prime Minster Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party promised to ban the LGBT+ ‘cures’ as part of its election campaign last year.

Commenting on the new bill, Trudeau told reporters:

‘“Conversion therapy” is harmful, degrading, and has no place in Canada … I hope that all parties will do the right thing by supporting this bill.’

However it is not without its critics. Earlier this year one – now failed – candidate for the Conservative Party leadership, Derek Sloan, argued against the government’s proposals. He claimed banning the harmful practices is ‘effectively putting into law child abuse’.

Despite this, Canadian cities including Vancouver and Calgary are introducing their own bans.

The government recognizes the scale of the problem in the country. It says 20% of sexual minority Canadian men have undergone some form of conversion therapy.

Banning ‘conversion therapy’ around the world

‘Conversion therapy’ – sometimes called ‘reparative therapy’ or ‘gay cures’ – are attempts to change someone’s sexuality or gender identity.

Around the world they include using electric shocks, hormonal or vomit-inducing drugs, ‘counselling’, prayer, group ‘therapy’, exorcisms, torture or humiliation.

Psychologists and psychiatrists around the world agree that LGBT+ identities can’t be changed by ‘conversion therapy’. Moreover, experts say the ‘therapies’ and ‘cures’ are often dangerous. 

As a result, many countries are now considering bans. And earlier this year, LGBT+ campaign organization ILGA World claimed 2020 could be a breakthrough year for the issue.

However, while there has been increasing public debate, few countries have taken decisive action.

Moreover, not all bans are equal. For example, the state of Queensland in Australia introduced a ban in August. But it left out religious organizations, which carry out the majority of the attempted ‘cures’ – both in Australia and around the world. Survivors argued this made the ban pointless and even counter-productive.

By comparison, the Australian Capital Territory introduced its ban later in the month. It did include religious groups. However, while welcoming the legislation, ‘conversion therapy’ survivor groups only gave it a seven out of 10.

So far only Malta, Ecuador, Brazil, Taiwan and Germany have introduced legal bans.

However, Israel, The Netherlands, UK, Ireland, Australia and Chile are also considering outlawing ‘conversion therapy’.

There are already bans in 20 US states: New Jersey, California, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New Mexico, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Nevada, Washington, Hawaii, Delaware, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, Massachusetts, Maine, Colorado, Utah and Virginia as well as Washington DC and Puerto Rico.

Moreover, Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee for the presidency, has promised he will ban the ‘therapies’ if he gets to the White House.