Ending Conversion Therapy

As a member of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health, it was my honour to propose that the Committee study LGBTQIA2 health issues.  This study was in fact undertaken in time to submit its report just prior to the end of the 42nd Parliament.

A key outcome of the study concerns so-called conversion therapy:

Recommendation 21

That the Government of Canada work with the provinces and territories to eliminate the practice of conversion therapy in Canada and consider making further modifications to the Criminal Code.
LGBTQIA2 Health Report

To such extent as this might be construed as therapy it would fall within provincial/territorial jurisdiction, which is why provincial and territorial consultation is warranted.  Even so, however, there remains ample scope to address it nationally through the federal criminal-law power.

As a result of this report, in late June the Minister of Justice, the Honorable David Lametti, along with the Minister of Health, the Honorable Ginette Petitpas-Taylor, and MP Randy Boissonnault, special advisor to the prime minister on LGBTQIA2 issues, wrote to all the provinces and territories, asking them to take action.

I am further proud to say that in our Liberal platform we have committed to follow-up with the requisite Criminal Code amendments.

Let me be clear:  conversion therapy is not therapy;  it does not work, and there is no need for it — LGBTQIA2 people do not need to be fixed;  they are not broken.

Conversion therapy is harmful, hurtful, and hateful.  It is cruel, it is nasty, and it is wrong.

We will put an end to it.

To all the other Candidates in Coquitlam — Port Coquitlam, Mr. Insley in particular, I challenge you:

What would you do about this abhorrent practice?

Further Reading


Multiple witnesses and organizations that submitted briefs highlighted the negative effects of “conversion therapy” on the mental health of LGBTQIA2 people.

This term may be defined differently by stakeholders.  Nova Scotia defines “change efforts” as “any counselling, behaviour modification techniques, administration or prescription of medication or any other purported treatment, service or tactic used with the objective of changing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.”  Ontario refers to treatments or services that “seek to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of a person.”

The Committee also heard that “conversion therapy is an umbrella term for practices that intend to change an individual’s sexual orientation and gender identity.”

There is evidence that 4% of men who identify as being in a sexual minority report having undergone conversion therapy.  Conversion therapy appears to produce feelings of shame, low self-esteem, depression, anxiety and substance abuse.

Travis Salway, Post-doctoral Research Fellow at the University of British Columbia, explained to the Committee that his research indicates that one-third of men who have undergone conversion therapy have attempted suicide.

A number of witnesses and organizations submitted briefs recommending to the Committee that conversion therapy should be banned in Canada under the Criminal Code.
LGBTQIA2 Health Report

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