Canada passes historic bill to ban conversion therapy once and for all

Canada passes historic bill to ban conversion therapy once and for all

MPs in Canada have passed a historic bill banning conversion therapy, while the UK continues to drag its feet.

On Tuesday (22 June), Canada’s House of Commons passed a comprehensive conversion therapy ban, which prohibits all conversion therapy for minors and conversion therapy for adults if it is against their will, while also banning anyone from making profit from or advertising the cruel practice.

MPs voted 263 to 63 to pass the Bill C6, with only conservatives and one independent voting against it, and it will now make its way to the senate.

Justin Trudeau, prime minister of Canada, wrote on Twitter: “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 criminalise this harmful and degrading practice. We’ll always stand up for LGBTQ2 Canadians and their rights.”

Meanwhile in the UK, it has been almost three years since the Conservative party pledged in 2018 to “eradicate” the abhorrent practice as part of their LGBT+ Action Plan.

Although a UK conversion therapy ban was confirmed during the Queen’s Speech at the State Opening of Parliament on 11 May, the Government Equalities Office has insisted that legislation will only be advanced following a public consultation process which would “ensure that the ban can address the practice while protecting the medical profession; defending freedom of speech; and upholding religious freedom”.

Despite the government’s insistence on “upholding religious freedom”, multiple faith communities have called for a ban to be brought forward immediately, including the bishop of Manchester who backed the prosecution of faith leaders who provide conversion therapy, including prayer, and suggested that the consultation was an excuse for “foot-dragging”.

Conversion therapy has been condemned by most major health and psychiatric bodies across the world. A 2019 survey from the Ozanne Foundation found that one in five survivors of the harmful practice later attempted suicide, while two in five had suicidal thoughts.