Canada approves legislation banning conversion therapy practices

Legislation passed in Canada on Wednesday and will take effect in 30 days, on January 7 that will ban conversion therapy and make it illegal to provide, promote, and profit off conversion therapy. The practice is aimed at changing a person’s sexual orientation. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted in response to the new law. “It’s official,” he wrote. “Our government’s legislation banning the despicable and degrading practice of conversion therapy has received Royal Assent – meaning it is now law. LGBTQ2 Canadians, we’ll always stand up for you and your rights.”

The Canadian government uses the term “LGBTQ2” to refer to Two-Spirit, which is an orientation used by some Indigenous people to describe their sexual, gender, and/or spiritual identity. 

The language of the bill identifies conversion therapy as any practice, treatment, or service that is intended to change or repress a person’s sexual orientation, gender expression, or gender identity. Many techniques include talk and behavioral therapy and can go as far as medical treatments.

The practice and methods have been discredited by many major medical associations in many countries including the U.S., as well as the United Nations, Amnesty International, and World Health Organization. 

In Canada, an estimated one in ten gay, bi, trans, and queer men as well as several other orientations have been subject to conversion therapy. Seventy-two percent of those individuals started before the age of 20, and lower-income, Indigenous, and other groups have been disproportionately represented.

Some jurisdictions like Ontario and Québec had already enacted legislation targeting certain aspects of conversion therapy, and other municipalities banned the practice and promotion within their city limits altogether. The nationwide legislation was the country’s third attempt at passing the law, and it makes having anyone undergo conversion therapy a crime, regardless of whether consent was given. 

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