Bill Proposing Nation-Wide Ban On “Conversion Therapy” Introduced In Canada

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

09 March 2020

Media Contact: Daina Ruduša, commsteam@outrightinternational.org, +1 (917) 622-1865

Bill Proposing Nation-Wide Ban On “Conversion Therapy” Introduced In Canada

On Monday, March 9, 2020, amendments to the Criminal Code proposing to ban so-called “conversion therapy” practices to change, suppress, or divert one’s sexual orientation or gender identity were introduced in Canada by its ministers of Justice and Diversity, Inclusion and Youth.

“Conversion therapy” practices are already illegal in a number of provinces and cities around Canada, including Ontario, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton. The “Act to amend the Criminal Code (conversion therapy)” goes a step beyond regional bans, and introduces nation-wide criminalization of the practices, naming specifically the prohibition of causing minors to undergo “conversion therapy” in Canada or abroad, as well as advertising and profiting from “conversion therapy”. If passed, Canada will join Malta, Ecuador, Brazil, and Taiwan, becoming only the 5th country in the world to ban “conversion therapy”.

In August 2019, OutRight Action International released the groundbreaking report “Harmful Treatment. The Global Reach of So-Called Conversion Therapy”, showing that, while “conversion therapy” practices vary across religious, cultural, or traditional contexts and range in their forms of psychological and physical violence, they are prevalent in countries across the globe. They have been condemned by all major psychological, psychiatric, and medical associations, including the World Psychiatric Association and the Canadian Psychological Association, and recognized to cause deep, lasting trauma on those who are forced, or choose, to undergo them.

Jessica Stern, Executive Director of OutRight Action International, comments:

So-called conversion therapy efforts hinge on the belief that cis-gender heterosexuality is the norm, and transgender identities and/or same-sex attraction not only fall outside the norm, but have to be changed, if need be by brutal, inhuman force. By introducing a bill which foresees a nation-wide ban, the government of Canada has sent a powerful message - that LGBTIQ people are not in need of change or cure. I commend the ministers in question for taking this important step, and urge authorities to bolster this effort with measures designed to promote understanding and inclusion of LGBTIQ people, thus tackling the root causes of these harmful, inhuman practices.

International attention on so-called “conversion therapy” has grown in recent months and years. The UN's Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is working on a report on the topic due to be issued in June. A nationwide ban is pending in Germany; bans have also been considered in the UK, Ireland, Australia, Chile and elsewhere.

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Notes to editors:

  • “Conversion therapy” is the most widely used term to describe practices attempting to change, suppress, or divert one’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. It is also called reorientation therapy, reparative therapy, reintegrative therapy, or, more recently, support for unwanted same-sex attraction or transgender identities.
  • OutRight's report found that:
    • The main perpetrators and advocates of "conversion therapy" are people acting in the name of religion or pseudo-healthcare, with LGBTIQ individuals often coerced or pressured by family.
    • A third of the respondents who experienced so-called conversion therapy sought it out themselves.
    • While they may vary due to religious, cultural, or traditional norms and contexts, “conversion therapy” practices never work; instead, they cause deep, lasting trauma.
    • Persistence of “conversion therapy” is directly related to societal beliefs about LGBTIQ people and the degree to which our lives are deemed unacceptable within families, faiths, and societies at large.
  • Only five countries in the world ban conversion therapy: Ecuador, Brazil,Taiwan, Malta, and now Canada

 

OutRight

OutRight Action International works at a global, regional and national level to eradicate the persecution, inequality and violence lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer (LGBTIQ) people face around the world. From its offices in 7 countries and headquarters in New York, OutRight builds capacity of LGBTIQ movements, documents human rights violations, advocates for inclusion and equality, and holds leaders accountable for protecting the rights of LGBTIQ people everywhere. OutRight has recognized consultative status at the United Nations.