Liberals reintroduce bill to ban conversion therapy

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Gemma Hickey, 45, an attorney and survivor of conversion therapy, attended the press conference with Justice Minister David Lametti and other ministers and talked about her experience.Tijana Martin / The Canadian Press

The Liberal government has reintroduced a bill that effectively compels anyone to undergo conversion therapy, a widely condemned practice aimed at changing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

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The law has a wider reach than the previous version. If passed, it would ban the so-called practice entirely to children and adults. Previously, the law left open the possibility that an adult could consent to conversion therapy. The new bill, C-4, closes that loophole.

Justice Minister David Lametti said the government is bringing the law forward because it has listened to survivors, heard from professionals and “saw how harmful conversion therapy is.”

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“Canada is a country where everyone should be able to live in equality and freedom, where everyone is entitled to live a truly authentic life, whoever he or she is,” he told a news conference in Ottawa on Monday. they love.”

The bill proposes four new criminal code offenses: requiring another person to undergo conversion therapy, subjecting a minor from Canada to conversion therapy abroad, benefiting from providing conversion therapy, and advertising or promoting conversion therapy. It would also authorize courts to confiscate conversion therapy ads or order them to be removed from the Internet.

Gemma Hickey, 45, a lawyer and survivor of conversion therapy, joined Mr Lametti and other ministers at the press conference and talked about her experience.

To End Conversion Therapy, We Must Understand What It Really Means

After telling a doctor they thought they wanted to have a boy at age 15, the doctor who had put a wooden cross around his neck said that if they prayed enough, “God make me better.” will give.”

“He prescribed me an antidepressant in the meantime. After months of treatment I felt the same way so I decided to end my life. One night at a party I swallowed all the pills in the medicine cabinet and washed them down with a flask of rum. given,” he said, he said, as he began his senior year of high school in a psychiatric ward and was sent home after being told by a psychiatrist. them that there was nothing wrong with them.

“These words were like medicine for my soul. As soon as I left the hospital, I vowed to do whatever I could to make sure the youth didn’t feel like I did.”

The bill was introduced in March, 2020, but died on an order letter when Parliament was prorogued by the government later that year. It was re-introduced in October as the C-6, and died out when parliament was dissolved before the federal election.

The Conservative caucus was divided over the bill. In the third reading of the previous bill in June, 62 Conservative lawmakers voted against it. Conservative leader Erin O’Toole was among 51 Conservative lawmakers who voted in favor.

Mr. O’Toole’s spokesman Josie Sabatino said, “Canadian conservatives agree that conversion therapy is wrong and should be banned. No Canadian should be forced to change who they are. Will review proposed legislation that bans conversion therapy while protecting the rights of LGBTQ+ Canadians.

The NDP’s critics for LGBTQ issues, Randall Garrison, and deputy critic Blake DesJarlis issued a joint statement, saying they expect the liberals to “get the job done” eventually.

“When this dangerous practice of conversion ‘therapy’ is finally banned in Canada, it will be because brave survivors come forward to tell their stories and because those survivors, community members and allies are calling for government action.” Have worked tirelessly over the years to inspire you to do so.”

Christopher Wells, an associate professor and Canada Research Chair for Public Understanding of Sexual and Gender Minority Youth at Alberta’s McEwan University, said the government would deliver on its campaign promise to introduce stronger and more comprehensive “conversion therapy” prohibition laws. good to see. ,

Dr. Wells said the bill is a dramatic improvement over previous bills, as it closes loopholes and bans provisioning, advertising and profit from conversion practices, regardless of who or where they are targeted. .

“It is clear from this law that no one may, under any circumstances, consent to any form of conversion therapy. Consent may not be given to practices that are clearly unscientific and likely to cause significant harm.” This law, if passed, would effectively end all forms of conversion therapy in Canada.”

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