Justin Trudeau calls on MPs to finally ban traumatising conversion therapy. In the UK, Boris Johnson waits for more ‘research’

Justin Trudeau

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau has branded conversion therapy as “harmful” and “degrading” and urged MPs to vote in favour of a nationwide ban. 

A bill was introduced to the country’s House of Commons on Thursday (1 October) by diversity minister Bardish Chagger. The legislation would make conversion therapy illegal through five amendments to the country’s criminal code.

If passed, the bill would make it a criminal offence to cause a minor to undergo conversion therapy, according to HuffPost.

It would also prevent people from being forced into the traumatising practice and “therapists” who push conversion therapy would be legally prohibited from profiting from their work.

The bill had previously been introduced to parliament in March but was pushed off the agenda by the coronavirus pandemic.

Justin Trudeau said conversion therapy is ‘harmful, degrading, and has no place in Canada’.

Speaking to reporters in Canada on Thursday, Trudeau said: “Conversion therapy is harmful, degrading, and has no place in Canada… I hope that all parties will do the right thing by supporting this bill.”

Trudeau’s Liberal Party promised to outlaw the pseudoscientific practice in a series of election promises in 2019.

The bill was presented in parliament on Thursday but a voting date has not yet been set.

When the bill was last introduced in March, it won support from Trudeau’s Liberal Party as well as the New Democratic Party (NDP). It is expected hat the bill will successfully pass through the House of Commons.

Conversion therapy is harmful, degrading, and has no place in Canada… I hope that all parties will do the right thing by supporting this bill.

Speaking in the House of Commons, NDP MP Randall Garrison said: “Attempting to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity is impossible and the attempts themselves do great harm to those fearing or already suffering from rejection by family, friends and their community,” according to CBC News.

The bill will not apply to faith leaders, pastoral counsellors, mental health professionals, doctors, teachers, parents or friends who “provide support” to individuals questioning their sexual orientation or gender identity.

According to government statistics, 20 per cent of queer men in Canada have experienced some form of conversion therapy, with lower income, Indigenous and trans people worst affected.

In 2018, 70,000 Canadians signed a petition calling for the harmful practice to be banned.

Meanwhile, it has been more than two years since the UK government pledged to ban conversion therapy – yet the traumatising practice is still legal.

In July 2018, the Tories pledged to “eradicate” the practice, but progress has been slow.

In July of this year, prime minister Boris Johnson said conversion therapy “has no place in a civilised society”, but suggested that the government would have to do more research before banning the practice.