Canada Bans Conversion Therapy

Pride flag || Photo by Ivan Romano/Getty Images

On December 7, 2021, the Canadian government unanimously decided to approve Bill C-3 that would ban all forms of conversion therapy, making it the fifth country to do so on a national level. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on December 8 that “Our government’s legislation banning the despicable and degrading practice of conversion therapy has received Royal Assent,” which confirmed the bill had been passed. The updates in the Canadian criminal code included in this legislation went into effect on January 7. 

Conversion therapy is the attempt to repress and change someone’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. These harmful practices take place in various forms, from talk counseling and therapy labeled as ‘behavior modification’ to physical forms that use electroshock. Conversion therapy is inherently harmful as it is built on the myth that sexuality and gender can be changed by other people and can cause damage to those who undergo the therapy. As studies show, people who undergo conversion therapy are more likely to develop severe depression and suicidal thoughts. The most vulnerable populations are LGBTQ+ minors, who are typically forced to attend.

This law officially makes it a crime in Canada to force someone to receive conversion therapy, provide conversion therapy to someone, or profit and promote the practice. In addition, it also makes it illegal to take a minor to another country to make them undergo conversion therapy, with the sentences for these crimes reaching up to five years. These laws not only protect minors from conversion therapy but adults as well.

This bill has been praised by various organizations such as No Conversion Canada, the Canadian Psychological Association, the Canadian Paediatric Society, and numerous other national and international organizations. The public also likely supports this legislation as prior to the introduction of this bill, over 60% of Canadians stated they oppose conversion therapy. 

While many have welcomed this legislation, there has been pushback by some religious leaders. A political and religious organization called Liberty Coalition Canada has denounced the bill and encouraged others to protest against it. Outside of Canada, American pastor Franklin Graham stated that Canadian religious leaders feel like they have been “stripped of their religious freedom.”

Some other criticism comes from Canadian conservative parliament members, such as Ted Falk, who expressed that the bill was passed too quickly and was too broad, with concerns that it could extend to “safe conversations with pastors, councilors, and parents.” However, despite this criticism parliament conservatives still voted to pass this bill. 

Despite the backlash from some religious figures that claim that these protections are an infringement on religious rights and freedoms, many agree that it is a great step towards equality for LGBTQ+ people in Canada.  

About the Author

Katelyn Ingles
Hey, it's Katelyn Ingles I live in 1502C and I'm from Richton Park. I like to research science, history, and random topics. When I'm not staring at my calc worksheet or working on SIR, I like to write news articles for Acronym.

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