THUNDER BAY – The House of Commons unanimously passed a motion to ban the discredited practice of “conversion therapy” in Canada.
"Tuesday was a really historic day in Canada. one that really none of the communities and none of the real advocates that were pushing for the bill saw coming,” said Jason Veltri, Rainbow Collective of Thunder Bay president.
“But we are all very thankful to the Conservative Party for finally realizing that conversion therapy and conversion practices should not exist in Canada and that they took the right step in asking for unanimous consent from the House.”
The Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, and the Honourable Marci Ien, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, introduced proposed amendments to the Criminal Code to ban so-called conversion therapy practices in Canada on Nov. 29.
This bill would make Canada's criminal laws on conversion therapy practices among the most comprehensive in the world.
The legislation proposed four new Criminal Code offences that would prohibit:
- causing another person to undergo conversion therapy
- removing a minor from Canada to subject them to conversion therapy abroad
- profiting from providing conversion therapy
- advertising or promoting conversion therapy
“The bill will cover minors from being removed from Canada to seek these kinds of practices elsewhere that are still not banned, which is an important change to the original bill and it’s all about protecting Canadians from the harmful effects of conversion therapy,” said Veltri.
“We use that term very loosely. Conversion practices are disproven, they’re harmful, and they have no place in our society today.”
The legislation will also authorize courts to order the seizure of conversion therapy advertisements or to order their removal from computer systems or the Internet.
The governing Liberals had made repeated attempts to pass legislation banning the practice, which aims to change individual's sexual orientation or gender identity, and has been deemed harmful by health experts globally.
Conservative leader, Erin O’Toole, has become an outspoken proponent of LGBTQ rights since taking control of the party. By voting to fast-track the bill, lawmakers avoid having to record their vote. Previously, 62 conservatives voted against the motion in June.
The bill will now go to the senate for a separate vote before it becomes law and Veltri says there’s still more work ahead.
“We’re waiting for the report in March to come forward. By then we hope that C4 is signed sealed and delivered and it’s given royal assent and that the amendment to the criminal code has happened, which will inevitably change how we approach this,” said Veltri.
“But complementary law at each level of government is really important here. No matter what the federal criminal code says, let’s say it’s banned, we still need complimentary legislation at the municipal level to ban businesses from doing it. So, although they can still be charged under the criminal code, we need to be able to strip their business licence immediately if the action is happening within our borders.”