Vancouver outlaws gay ‘cure’ therapy

The city of Vancouver has passed a ban on conversion therapy.

The city became the first in Canada to pass a motion outlawing gay ‘cure’ therapy.

The local law, proposed by out councillor and and United Church minister Tim Stevenson.

“The Council of the City of Vancouver is strongly committed to supporting the equality and human rights of the LGBTQ2+ community and all city residents,” the motion said.

“Sex, sexual orientation and gender identity or expression are prohibited grounds of discrimination in the British Columbia Human Rights Code.

“The practice of ‘conversion therapy’ or ‘reparative therapy’, pseudo-scientific techniques that attempt to persuade persons to change their sexual orientation or gender identity, is seriously harmful to persons and is opposed by the Canadian Psychological Association, the World Health Organization, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Medical Association and others.”

It adds: “The Council of the City of Vancouver is authorized to prohibit businesses, with a unanimous vote of Council… the Vancouver Charter and has prohibited a variety of businesses.

“Therefore be it resolved that Council supports… amending the Business Prohibition [laws] to prohibit the business of providing conversion therapy to minors.”

Flags at Vancouver Pride (Creative Commons photo/Flickr user Camille de Vera)

The Director of Legal Services was “directed to bring forward for enactment an amendment to the Business Prohibition By-law in accordance with this resolution.”

Peter Gajdics, a survivor of conversion therapy who now campaigns to get the practice banned, told the Vancouver Star: “I feel victorious. I actually didn’t think it was going to happen… I kept thinking something was going to get in the way.

“This is huge for Vancouver to take this position.”

Conversion therapy is already illegal in the states of Ontario and Manitoba.

The Public Health Agency of Canada has previously disavowed gay ‘cure’ therapy.

It said: “A student’s sexual orientation is not a ‘lifestyle’ choice and under no circumstances should a student be counselled to change or attempt to ‘repair’ their sexual orientation.

“These kinds of ‘conversion’ or ‘reparative’ therapies have been criticized and discouraged by the American Psychological Association and by many teacher associations across Canada.

“Clinical research has demonstrated that these approaches are largely ineffective, ignore the impact of social stigmatization on mental health, and in some cases, can be extremely dangerous, particularly for vulnerable youth.

“Instead of attempting to change a student’s sexual orientation, educators, administrators, and health care professionals should focus on helping the youth and their family to develop active coping mechanisms to address issues related to internalized homophobia, stigma, prejudice and discrimination.”

The TELUS World of Science geodesic dome and the city skyline are reflected in the water February 18, 2009 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Robert Giroux/Getty)

Performing gay ‘cure’ therapy on minors is already is illegal in 11 US states and counting, as well as Switzerland, Malta, Taiwan, and the Australian state of Victoria.

The European Parliament earlier this year voted to condemn gay ‘cure’ therapy and urged member countries to ban the harmful practice.

The EU body voted by 435 to 109 to adopt text calling on member states to outlaw the discredited practice.

It says: “[The European Parliament] welcomes initiatives prohibiting LGBTI conversion therapies and banning the pathologisation of trans identities and urges all Member States to adopt similar measures that respect and uphold the right to gender identity and gender expression.”

Canadian PM Justin Trudeau (Getty)

It is the first time the Parliament has made the specific disavowal of conversion therapies.

The vote came on an amendment to parliament’s annual report on the situation of fundamental rights in the EU, which was later adopted.

The Intergroup’s Sirpa Pietikäinen MEP noted that only a small number of EU member countries “have explicitly banned LGBTI conversion therapies” to date.

The MEP continued: “The UN Committee Against Torture, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the Human Rights Committee have already condemned the practice of conversion therapy in several countries.”