In a massive win for LGBTQ+ rights, Canada’s House of Commons passed a historic bill criminalizing conversion therapy on Tuesday (22 June).
The barbaric practice – which has been discredited by the NHS and the World Psychiatric Association – refers to any attempt at changing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity and often involves techniques such as electroshock therapy or prayer.
The bill, which now goes to Senate, passed the House in a 263-63 split, with only conservative MPs and former party member and Independent MP Derek Sloan voting against. Canada’s ruling Liberal party originally vowed to ban the harmful practice in 2019 when its election manifesto was unveiled.
Minister of Justice David Lametti tweeted that “if passed, #BillC6 will make Canada’s criminal laws on conversion therapy the most progressive and comprehensive in the world”.
The new bill would effectively prohibit minors being subjected to the practice, and an adult would not be permitted to undergo conversion therapy against their own will. Also, no one will be allowed to profit from the practice or advertise it.
Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, also tweeted: “Conversion therapy has no place in Canada. And even though more than half of the Conservative caucus voted against it, the House of Commons has passed our legislation to criminalize this harmful and degrading practice.
“We’ll always stand up for LGBTQ2 Canadians and their rights.”
Conversion therapy has no place in Canada. And even though more than half of the Conservative caucus voted against it, the House of Commons has passed our legislation to criminalize this harmful and degrading practice. We’ll always stand up for LGBTQ2 Canadians and their rights. https://t.co/rWACeC5AUi
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) June 22, 2021
In May, during her speech to UK parliament, the Queen finally announced the government’s plans to illegalise conversion therapy.
“Measures will be brought forward to address racial and ethnic disparities and ban conversion therapy,” said the Queen.
She added that the government will “strengthen and renew democracy and the constitution” as well as “protect freedom of speech and restore the balance of power between the executive, legislature and the courts.”
Following the Queen’s speech, Liz Truss, Minister for Women and Equalities, confirmed that the legislation would come to fruition after a public consultation.
“As a global leader on LGBT+ rights, this government has always been committed to stamping out the practice of conversion therapy,” she said.
“We want to make sure that people in this country are protected, and these proposals mean nobody will be subjected to coercive and abhorrent conversion therapy.
In 2019, the UK’s then-prime minister Theresa May said it was the government’s priority to “end the practice of conversion therapy” as part of their 75-point plan to improve the lives of LGBTQ+ people across the country.
After a year of silence, Boris Johnson commented on the topic at a school visit in Kent last year, where he described the practice as “absolutely abhorrent” and said it has “no place in a civilised society, and has no place in this country.”
Despite both prime ministers’ pledge to abolish conversion therapy, LGBTQ+ activists remained doubtful that a ban will ever be implemented.
Jayne Ozanne, a former member of the government’s LGBT+ Advisory Panel and a gay evangelical Christian, said she’s “relieved to hear that measures will be brought forward” to ban conversion therapy.
“However, the government risks creating a highly dangerous loophole if it chooses to focus purely on ‘coercive’ practices,” she said.
Jayne recently wrote a piece for GAY TIMES about why the government’s new consultation on conversion therapy is yet another delay, which you can read in full here.