OTTAWA — The federal Liberals have reintroduced a bill to ban forced conversion therapy in Canada.
The government previously introduced the legislation in March, before Parliament shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Diversity Minister Bardish Chagger said Thursday that so-called conversion therapy — which aims to alter a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity — is destructive, harmful, and deadly.
Chagger added addressing the issue is an important step in advancing LGBTQ rights.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau agreed.
“It’s past time to put a stop to this unacceptable, discredited practice that has hurt far too many LGBTQ2 to Canadians,” he said.
Trudeau government reintroduces bill to effectively ban conversion therapy in Canada.
Was a promise to the LGBTQ2 community in the last election, and a bill was introduced in March, but the pandemic delayed passage and prorogation scrapped it. So has to be tabled again #cdnpoli
— Cormac Mac Sweeney (@cmaconthehill) October 1, 2020
Justice minister David Lametti said the bill is not an attempt to ban honest conversions between a youth and a parent or faith leader.
“What we are targeting are those who actively work to and provide services designed to change someone’s gender identity to cisgender or sexual orientation to heterosexual,” he said. “These dangerous practices must come to an end.”
When the Liberals decided to prorogue Parliament in August, it ended the bill’s march through the legislative process and it had to be reintroduced.
NDP MP Randall Garrison says his party welcomes the return of the bill. It is likely to pass through the House of Commons with NDP support.
The legislation creates five new criminal code offenses: banning anyone from putting a minor through conversion therapy; taking them out of the country to have it performed; forcing anyone to go through it against their will; as well as profiting from or advertising the practice.
The legislation will also authorize courts to order the seizure of conversion therapy advertisements or to order their removal from computer systems or the Internet.
The federal Conservative Party claims the legislation is flawed.
According to the federal government, conversion therapy aims to change an individual’s sexual orientation to heterosexual, to repress or reduce non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behaviours, or to change an individual’s gender identity to match the sex they were assigned at birth.
“It harms and stigmatizes lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and Two-Spirit (LGBTQ2) persons, undermines their dignity and negatively impacts their equality rights. It reflects myths and stereotypes about LGBTQ2 persons, in particular that sexual orientations other than heterosexual, and gender identities other than cisgender, can and should be changed. The practice can take various forms, including counselling and behavioural modification.”