Canada votes to ban barbaric conversion therapy while the UK dithers and delays

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Canada’s House of Commons has voted unanimously to ban so-called LGBT+ conversion therapy, while Tory government officials continue to dither over a proposed ban in the UK.

The new legislation, proposed by the Liberal government of prime minister Justin Trudeau, would make it illegal to have a child, or anyone who is unwilling, to undergo the dehumanising practice.

All efforts to change a person’s sexuality or gender identity have long been rejected by mainstream medical and mental health organisations in recent decades.

In fact, UN experts have called for a global ban saying such interventions are “degrading and discriminatory and rooted in the belief that LGBT+ persons are somehow inferior”.

Following the vote in the House of Commons on Wednesday (1 December) to ban LGBT+ conversion therapy, the measure must now be approved by the upper Senate chamber.

The House had passed an earlier version of the bill in June, but it failed to clear the Senate before Trudeau called an election in September.

In emotional scenes after the vote, senior gay Liberals tearfully stated that members of the LGBT+ community would no longer fear being tortured by the discredited practice.

Tourism minister Randy Boissonnault, who is also a special advisor to Trudeau on LGBT+ issues, stated: “We said we wanted people to be on the right side of history on this issue. No one can consent to torture.

Former government equalities minister Liz Truss leaving Downing Street (Wiktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto via Getty)

“It’s a great day for survivors, to know that no one else is going to go through what they went through.”

The breakthrough vote in Canada has once again turned attention to the UK’s Conservative Party, who are still yet to ban the practice years after Theresa May’s government released its promising LGBT Action Plan.

Indeed, the 2018 comprehensive document laid out how the Tories would work to improve life for queer people in the UK. However, the latest updates have all but slashed any hope that the government’s proposed legislation could be developed into a comprehensive ban.

The government published its consultation document for a conversion therapy ban in November, but its content left many alarmed.

It proposed exemptions in the law for religious conversion practices, like prayer and “everyday religious practice”, leaving those in faith communities especially vulnerable to legal conversion therapy.

The document also created a loophole for “consenting adults”, despite the widely accepted legal concept that people cannot consent to serious harm.

Despite the outrage over gaping holes in the government conversion therapy consultation document, Liz Truss stood by the loopholes when questioned in the House of Commons on 24 November.

She said: “What is important is that we make sure people are no coerced into conversion therapy. But it’s also important that we protect freedom of speech, the ability for adults to consent, and the freedom to express [religious] teachings.”