Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has championed the bill to ban conversion therapy
Lawmakers in Canada’s House of Commons have passed a federal bill to outlaw dangerous practices that seek to change LGBTQ+ people’s sexuality or gender identity.
On Tuesday, 263 MPs voted in favour of the landmark Bill C-6, with 63 MPs opposing it. The Bill would amend the Criminal Code to prohibit certain activities that relate to “conversion therapy”.
Specifically, it would make it an offence to force an individual to undergo conversion therapy; to cause a child to undergo conversion therapy or to remove a child from Canada to do so overseas; to gain financial benefit from conversion therapy; or; to advertise these services.
The Bill was backed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government. “BillC6 is about protecting the dignity and equality rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirit individuals, by criminalising conversion therapy-related conduct,” said Justice Minister David Lametti on Twitter.
The legislation must still be passed by the Senate and then be signed by Trudeau before becoming law. Lametti noted that if this happens, “BillC6 will make Canada’s criminal laws on conversion therapy the most progressive and comprehensive in the world.”
The No Conversion Canada campaign welcomed the Bill’s progress in the legislature. “A sincere thank you to survivors and LGBTQ2+ Canadians for leading the way [and] to every MP who voted for a safer future today, and every Canadian who made this possible through their support for safety, equality and human rights.”
The organisation added: “Now we are calling on the Senate of Canada to vote swiftly in favour of this life-saving legislation.”
Conversion therapy (sometimes called reparative therapy) is offered by certain therapists and religious counsellors in a misguided attempt to change sexual orientation or gender identity in individuals. The World Psychiatric Association and many other mental health bodies have asserted that it is dangerous and unethical.
The practice, which has been linked to a higher risk of suicide attempts, is banned for minors in a handful of countries and regions, including Germany, but is not expressly outlawed in South Africa.