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Ontario bans conversion therapy for youth

Bill also removes public funding for the therapy for adults

Conversion therapy for anyone under the age of 18 is now banned in Ontario.

The Affirming Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Act, better known as Bill 77, passed third reading in Ontario’s legislature June 4. The bill prohibits therapies aimed at changing the gender or sexual orientation of anybody under the age of 18, and removes the therapies from funding under Ontario’s public health insurance.

NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo had hoped to get the bill passed before Pride celebrations in Toronto this year. The bill, the first of its kind in Canada, was inspired by the plight of trans youth Leelah Alcorn, who was killed by suicide. In her suicide note, Alcorn wrote that she was forced to undergo Christian conversion therapy.

“It really sends a very strong message that psychiatrists, psychologists, doctors and counsellors should not engage in this,” DiNovo told Daily Xtra on June 1.

At the announcement of Bill 77 on March 11, Erika Muse, who underwent conversion therapy from ages 16 to 26, told Daily Xtra that she was only given one option for care with a therapist who she believes did not believe trans identities were real.

“Sessions were not therapeutic — but abusive,” Muse says. “They led to trauma about my body and a lack of faith about myself.”

Since DiNovo’s announcement, Manitoba legislators have introduced a similar bill that would ban conversion therapy in the province.