Canada Set To Criminalise Conversion Therapy

Justin Trudeau Pride March
Justin Trudeau Pride March

By Alice Hudson

On Monday, Canada announced plans for a nationwide ban on LGBTQ+ conversion therapy, which is considered harmful and is widely discredited. The federal government’s new legislation would criminalise conversion therapy, fulfilling an election promise of Justin Trudeau’s liberal government.

In 2018 the UK announced plans to bring forward proposals to end the practice, but it is not yet banned country-wide like it is in both Ecuador and Malta.

What is conversion therapy?
Conversion therapy refers to any practices that intend to change a person’s sexual orientation to heterosexual, change a person’s gender identity to the one they were assigned at birth, or to repress non-heterosexual behaviours and attractions.

Many conversion therapies revolve around talking therapy. However, more extreme techniques are often practised, and people are subjected to ‘aversion techniques’ such as forced medication or electric shock treatments.

The bill has been introduced by David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, and Bardish Chagger, Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth.

What does the new legislation propose?
There will be 5 major changes to the federal criminal code under the new legislation, making it illegal to:

1. Make a minor undergo conversion therapy.
2. Remove a minor from Canada to undergo conversion therapy
3. Cause a person to undergo the practice against their will
4. Profit from providing conversion therapy
5. Advertise an offer to provide conversion therapy

Conversion therapy is widely discredited across the world by many major psychotherapy and medical associations, and the UN and WHO both oppose the practise. David Lametti, speaking about the new legislation, said that conversion therapy “has no basis on science or facts”

Some Canadian cities, such as Vancouver and Calgary, have already moved to ban the practice, and there are similar moves in other countries. Many states in the US has banned conversion therapy, including California, Colorado, New York, and Washington.