Canada finally introduces legislation to ban traumatising conversion therapy, putting the UK to shame

conversion therapy Photo: (GEOFF ROBINS/AFP/Getty Images)

Canada has introduced legislation to criminalise the traumatising and pseudoscientific practice of conversion therapy.

After the 2019 federal election, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau made a nationwide ban on conversion therapy a “top priority” for his new government.

In a letter to the country’s justice secretary in December, Trudeau listed a number of priorities he expects government officials to deliver on. It included amending the Criminal Code to ban conversion therapy, and taking steps to definitively end the practise across all of Canada’s provinces and territories.

A bill was introduced on Monday, March 9, by the minister of justice and attorney general of Canada, David Lametti, and the minister of diversity and inclusion and youth, Bardish Chagger, which would finally criminalise conversion therapy.

The proposed amendments to the country’s criminal code include making it an offence to cause someone to undergo conversion therapy, to advertise or profit from conversion therapy and to remove a minor from Canada to undergo conversion therapy abroad.

It would also allow authorities to order the disposal or deletion of any advertisements for the debunked practice.

Lametti said in a statement: “Conversion therapy is a cruel practice that can lead to life-long trauma, particularly for young people.

“The approach we are proposing today demonstrates our government’s strong commitment to protecting the dignity and equality rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirit Canadians, by criminalising a practice that discriminates against and harms them.

“If passed, this bill would make Canada’s laws on conversion therapy the most progressive and comprehensive in the world.”

Chagger added: “We all have a role to play to make sure LGBT+ persons feel safe and can fully participate in Canadian society.

“The progressive legislation we proposed today will help to ensure that everyone, everywhere in Canada can be who they truly are, and live full, healthy, and safe lives.”

A study, published in 2019, found that “transgender people who are exposed to conversion efforts anytime in their lives have more than double the odds of attempting suicide compared with those who have never experienced efforts by professionals to convert their gender identity”.