In Brief

Canada moves to ban gay conversion therapy

Justin Trudeau’s government says the treatment has no basis in science

The Canadian government has introduced new legislation to criminalise LGBTQ conversion therapy, as Justin Trudeau’s Liberal party moves to keep an attention-grabbing election promises.

If it passes, causing a person to undergo conversion therapy will become an offence, Reuters reports, as will advertising and profiting from conversion therapy and removing a minor from Canada to undergo the treatment.

However, the legislation will not criminalise personal views expressed in private conversations by individuals looking to provide support to those struggling with their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Conversion therapy has been discredited and denounced by professionals and health associations in Canada, the United States and around the world. It has no basis on science or facts,” said David Lametti, minister of justice and attorney general of Canada.

Conversion therapy is “any practice designed to change a person’s sexual orientation to heterosexual, to change a person’s gender identity to one that matches the sex assigned at birth, or to repress or reduce non-heterosexual sexual attraction or behaviours, according to the legislation”, The Guardian says.

While many forms of conversion therapy are simply talk therapy techniques, some counsellors have used extreme “aversion treatments” such as electric shock treatment and medication.

A study in Canada found that one in six LGBTQ men have been subjected to sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression change efforts, the country’s iPolitics website reports.

Conversion therapy is already banned in some Canadian cities, such as Vancouver and Calgary. Ontario was the first Canadian province to outlaw the practice in 2015.

Several US states, including California, Colorado, New York and Washington, have banned conversion therapy.

In 2018, Theresa May’s government announced an action plan that “sets out 75 steps to help improve the lives of LGBT people”, including measures to ban conversion therapies.

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