Story at a glance
- Canada’s House of Commons on Wednesday voted to ban LGBTQ+ conversion therapy, a pseudoscientific practice medical experts say is harmful and ineffective.
- The bill will now go to the Senate for a vote before it can become law.
- A record of eight queer, trans, and Two-Spirit candidates were elected to Canada’s parliament this year.
Canada’s House of Commons on Wednesday voted unanimously to outlaw LGBTQ+ conversion therapy, a rare example of harmony in a Parliament often fraught with discord.
The bill, first proposed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government in March of last year, will now go to the upper Senate chamber for approval. An earlier version of the bill died after the government prorogued Parliament last August and was reintroduced the following October.
“There are clearly people in the Conservative caucus who exercised a great deal of leadership on the issue, and I thank them,” Canada’s Liberal justice minister, David Lametti, told reporters Wednesday. “This is what we can do when parliament works together.”
"We said we wanted people to be on the right side of history on this issue. No one can consent to torture," Liberal MP Randy Boissonnault, one of eight openly queer, trans, and Two-Spirit candidates elected to Parliament this year, told reporters Wednesday.
"It's a great day for survivors, to know that no one else is going to go through what they went through," he added.
Boissonnault, also a special advisor to Trudeau on LGBTQ+ issues, has long been campaigning for a mandated end to conversion therapy in Canada.
“This horrendous practice must be ended and I will fight every single day to see that improved and expanded legislation to ban it is tabled, debated and passed as quickly as possible,” he wrote in a statement to the Canadian LGBTQ+-focused magazine Xtra in September.
The House approved an earlier draft of the bill, but it failed to advance through the Senate before Trudeau called an election in September.
“Calling an election was clearly a bigger priority for the Liberals than ending the torture and mental health challenges caused by this fraudulent idea that members of our community are broken and need to be fixed,” New Democratic Party MP Randall Garrison told Xtra at the time.
Conversion therapy, a pseudoscientific practice aiming to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, uses techniques like electric shock, deprivation of food and water, and hypnosis. The American Medical Association has called conversion practices ineffective and are based on an “unfounded misconception of sexual orientation and gender identity.”
Conversion therapy is practiced in at least 68 countries, according to a United Nations report published last year.
But Canada’s vote puts it one step closer to joining a growing number of countries, including Brazil, Ecuador, and Germany, that have banned conversion practices outright. A recent bill proposed in the UK would restrict, but not ban, conversion therapy.
In the U.S., 20 states have laws in place which ban conversion therapy for minors, and five states have partial bans. Three states – Alabama, Georgia, and Florida – are located in a federal judicial circuit with an injunction that prevents the enforcement of conversion therapy bans.
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