Xtra Weekly
2 min

A new bill will make it illegal to advertise conversion therapy to kids in Canada

Misogynoir, Havana’s pride march and James Charles. Here’s your Xtra Weekly, May 17

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A new bill that makes it illegal to advertise conversion therapy to children was introduced in Senate last month.

But first . . . what is conversion therapy? Conversion therapy claims to change the sexual orientation of LGBTQ2 people through prayer and talk therapy. However, there’s no scientific research that supports this practice at all.

In 2015, the Canadian Psychological Association denounced the practice and said that it can result in damaging outcomes for individuals such as depression, negative self-image and a feeling of personal failure.

What is this bill? Liberal senator Serge Joyal tabled Bill S-260 in April. The bill aims to amend the Criminal Code of Canada and make it an offence to advertise conversion therapy to anyone under the age of 18.

The move is the result of an online petition that called on the federal government to ban the practice geared toward Canadian children. In February, NDP MP Sheri Benson presented the petition to the House of Commons.

In March, the government responded, calling conversion therapies “immoral” and maintaining that those practices don’t reflect the government’s — or Canadian — values. However, since conversion therapy can be carried out by members of the health profession, the government says that it’s largely a provincial and territorial issue because it could be addressed through existing sections of the Criminal Code. This means that when a person is forced to undergo conversion therapy, criminal charges like kidnapping, assault and forcible confinement may apply.

In a statement to Huffpost Canada, Benson says she’s pleased to see Joyal continue to fight to get rid of conversion therapy in Canada. Currently the country has no national ban on the practice, but Ontario, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and the City of Vancouver have placed restrictions on the so-called “treatment.”

So why is conversion therapy still legal in Canada? Here’s a powerful piece by journalist Megan Jones that explores the issue.


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