Canada has announced details of its plan to ban ‘conversion therapy’ and the laws look to be world-leaders.
Justice Minister David Lametti has outlined the bill which criminalizes five new offences under the Criminal Code.
If Canada goes ahead, it will have one of the world’s toughest and most thorough laws against so-called ‘gay cures’.
Leading psychological and psychiatric organizations in Canada and around the world condemn ‘conversion therapy’.
But religious leaders and quack therapists continue to offer the so-called ‘cures’. They claim they can make gay and bi people straight and turn trans people into cisgender people. In reality, they never work and can be very damaging to mental health.
Indeed, the The Canadian Psychological Association opposes the ‘cures’. It says they ‘can result in negative outcomes, such as distress, anxiety, depression, negative self-image, a feeling of personal failure, difficulty sustaining relationships, and sexual dysfunction.’
What is Canada proposing?
Lametti’s 11-page bill – Bill C-8 – will create the following offenses:
- Causing a minor to undergo conversion therapy.
- Removing a minor from Canada to undergo conversion therapy abroad.
- Causing a person to undergo conversion therapy against their will.
- Profiting from providing conversion therapy.
- Advertising an offer to provide conversion therapy.
Despite this, adults will still be able to seek out ‘conversion therapy’ if they want it. That’s because Canada believes failing to provide adults with that choice may violate its Charter of Rights.
Under the proposed law, courts will be able to seize material that promotes ‘conversion therapy’. And they can also order people to remove such material from the internet.
In that way, they will handle ‘gay cure’ material in a similar way to obscene material and child pornography.
Moreover, the law would punish some offenses with up to five years prison. Other offenses under the new law will earn you up to two years in jail.
Lametti said the ban would be the ‘most progressive and comprehensive in the world’.
He added: ‘Conversion therapy is premised on a lie, that being homosexual, lesbian, bisexual or trans is wrong and in need of fixing. Not only is that false, it sends a demeaning and a degrading message that undermines the dignity of individuals.’
2020 may be a breakthrough year in fighting ‘conversion therapy’
Other countries and states have also banned ‘conversion therapy’. But the bans have often been far more limited. For example, some only apply to professional therapists, not religious leaders. Equally, they typically protect children, not adults.
Canada is acting now after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to eradicate the ‘harmful and scientifically disproven practice,’ during the 2019 federal election campaign.
Already, three provinces and several cities in Canada have their own bans.
Last month, LGBT+ campaigners issued a major new report on ‘conversion therapy’ and the harm it does around the world.
But 2020 may be a breakthrough year in stopping the dangerous practice. At least 10 countries are currently considering nationwide bans.