Manitoba has become the first Canadian province to ban conversion therapy which attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation from gay to straight.
In a media statement, Health Minister Sharon Blady says the therapy is ‘neither medically nor ethically appropriate,’ and can cause substantial harm to an individual.
Blady says Manitoba Health will work with regional health authorities and health regulatory colleges to ensure the widely discredited practice is not practised.
‘The idea that sexual orientation or gender identity can be cured through health-care intervention has the very real potential to damage an individual,’ Blady said in a release on Friday.
‘It is the position of the Manitoba government that conversion therapy can have no place in the province’s public health-care system.
‘As such, fee-for-service professionals should not be billing for this practice under the Manitoba Health Services Insurance Plan.’
She has also called for a review of professional codes of ethics and standards of practice to ensure that such therapy is not condoned nor accepted as legitimate practice, particularly for children under the age of 18.
She further encourages anyone whohad received the treatment from a regulated health-care professional to file a complaint.
The minister clarified that while there’s no evidence the practice is happening in Manitoba, the government wants to be proactive to stop it so it ‘takes no foothold in this province.’
Earlier this month, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne supported a New Democratic Party (NDP) private member’s bill to ban LGBTQ conversion therapy in Ontario. Although the bill has passed a second reading, it has yet to pass the legislature.
In the US, Oregon this week joined California, New Jersey and Washington, DC to ban conversion therapy.
US President Barack Obama has also called for a national ban on the use of conversion therapy for minors. Religious groups however say such a move would infringe on their religious freedom rights.