Story at a glance
- Canada on Wednesday officially banned conversion therapy practices after two previous failed attempts.
- The bill passed unanimously in the House of Commons and the Senate.
- Canada joins a growing number of countries working to ban conversion practices.
Legislation banning conversion therapy in Canada was officially approved on Wednesday, taking effect at the beginning of next month.
A bill outlawing conversion therapy on Wednesday formally received “royal assent,” or a ceremonial signature by the Governor General of Canada or a deputy after being unanimously approved in both the House of Commons and the Senate.
The ban will go into effect in 30 days, and the nation’s criminal code will be amended to make conversion therapy practices illegal in Canada for both adults and children.
Specifically, it will be considered a criminal offense in Canada to promote or profit from conversion therapy, according to text of the bill.
“It’s official: Our government’s legislation banning the despicable and degrading practice of conversion therapy has received Royal Assent – meaning it is now law. LGBTQ2 Canadians, we’ll always stand up for you and your rights,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted Wednesday.
Trudeau’s Liberal government first proposed the bill in March of 2020. An earlier version had died after the government prorogued Parliament in August 2020 and was reintroduced the following October.
“The unanimous support it received from every official in Parliament sends a clear message to LGBTQ2 Canadians: you are valid and deserving of a life free from harm,” Nicholas Schiavo, the founder of No Conversion Canada, said in a statement. “Today, as we celebrate this historic moment, we must thank survivors and their tireless advocacy to reach this moment where conversion ‘therapy’ is finally outlawed in our country.”
Conversion therapy, a discredited practice claiming to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, often uses harmful techniques like electric shock, deprivation of food and water, and hypnosis. The American Medical Association has condemned conversion practices.
Canada is the latest of a growing number of countries, including Brazil, Ecuador and Germany, that have banned conversion therapy outright. The U.K. government has pledged to ban conversion practices, but has not yet done so.
In the U.S., 20 states have laws in place banning 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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