LANGLEY (CityNews) — When Samantha Ribchester saw the MP for her riding oppose a bill banning the harmful practice of conversion therapy she was extremely concerned, and she had questions. But when she reached out asking for an explanation she didn’t get an answer, she got blocked.
Tamara Jansen represents Cloverdale-Langley City in the House of Commons. On Thursday, she weighed in on Bill C-6, a piece of legislation that would make it illegal to practice, promote, or profit from ‘therapy’ that has the goal of changing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
After journalist Justin Ling tweeted a video of her comments, it quickly went viral.
Here's a Tory MP just straight up asking: Maybe conversion therapy to get rid of "lesbian activity," is good? pic.twitter.com/BLoGRVk350
— Justin Ling (@Justin_Ling) April 22, 2021
After citing a bible verse that included the word “unclean,” she told the house about a young woman who was “involved in lesbian activity” and sought counselling when she “did not want to continue her lesbian activity.” Quoting that young woman, Jansen said “If you enact the proposed bill, you are banning the exact support that I desperately needed at that point in my life.”
Ribchester says when she saw the video on social media she was upset.
“I do have quite a few gay friends, family members, so the community is very near and dear to my heart,” she explains.
“The wording that she used was extremely disheartening to me. Just hearing those words come from someone in this day and age and someone who represents me in the House of Commons — it’s extremely concerning because that’s not at all what the majority of us feel.”
That’s when she decided to reach out, to ask Jansen to explain what she said and why she said it.
“I asked just for some clarification on her stance on conversion therapy as well as what exactly she meant, and ultimately I got blocked,” she says.
“I followed it up with a message this morning just saying that I thought it was inappropriate — as one of her people that she’s representing — that it was inappropriate that she had not responded to a message. I was nowhere near rude or hateful in my message, it was very matter of fact.”
‘We’re concerned residents of the area’
When Ribchester told some other constituents that she’d been blocked, she says she learned she wasn’t the only one.
“I definitely feel that a conversation, not only just with me, but with anyone else who is stepping forward and asking her questions, needs to be addressed because we’re concerned residents of this area,” she says.
“She is removing basic human rights from someone who may have an alternative lifestyle to her and that’s not okay.”
Catherine Jenkins, co-chair of the Vancouver Pride Society, agrees.
“The bill that’s being proposed in the House of Commons is trying to really shore up our human rights, and I don’t think that [Jansen] recognizes that,” she says.
“There really is clear evidence that conversion therapy doesn’t work. In fact, that is deeply harmful to LGBTQAI2S+ individuals. What she’s doing really is using coded dog whistles to imply that not only is being gay something that can be changed, but that it’s something that needs changing in the first place. Her comments and just emphasize why we need this bill in the first place.”
Jenkins says seeing these comments come from a member of a mainstream political party is troubling.
“It is scary because it makes me, at least, wonder, ‘Where else are these views lurking within that party, or within other political parties?”
Conservative MP Michelle Rempel has condemned Jansen’s remarks.
“So called ‘conversion therapy’ is a human rights violation, full stop. Lesbians, I fully endorse getting your activity on in a world free of discrimination or stigmatization. I’ll keep working for that to happen, in my own tent and beyond. Signed, this Conservative MP,” she tweeted.
Bill C-6 passed in the house with the majority of Conservatives voting in favour of it. Jansen abstained from her vote. Before becoming law, it has to be considered by the Senate.
CityNews has reached out to Jansen for comment.