Canada approves ban on ‘conversion therapy’

Image copyright Reuters Image caption A gay rights activist reacts after having cheered the news

The Senate has voted overwhelmingly to ban conversion therapy in Canada.

The counselling and therapy, aimed at “converting” LGBTQ people, is illegal in the US state of California.

Currently, sexual orientation and gender identity are covered by the Mental Health Act, but in the House of Commons a private member’s bill made it into law.

Conservative MP Randy Hoback made the switch in the House of Commons, and his bill was passed by a vote of 400 to 22.

He told senators he supports “all children who are suffering from psychological trauma” – but it is illegal in Canada to provide “therapy or other interventions” designed to change one’s sexual orientation.

However, the federal government has yet to pass a federal law banning the therapy.

Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor said the government would review the bill once it passes into law in the Senate.

She added: “We are putting ourselves in a position that we, as a country, are pro-equality, that we, as a country, are respectful and loving to all people, including LGBTQ2 people.”

LGBTQ Canadians have rallied around the legislative movement, saying they have endured “exclusion, bullying, stigmatisation, mental health and safety crises”.

Acts of hate

A recent survey found people with same-sex attraction in the UK are more likely to be fearful of being attacked, harassed, harassed or excluded than people with heterosexual or bisexual orientation.

LGBTQ people, aged between 15 and 24, are more likely to experience verbal or physical violence than those with other sexual orientations, but unlike heterosexual people are less likely to report such incidents.

In June, women’s marches in some parts of the world took place under the banner of #iamsparkeda. The phrase was a play on anti-LGBTQ-inclusivity groups like Concerned Women for America.

In France, the #iamsparkeda movement made last year’s marches – in which thousands of people protested against law that expanded the definition of “religious values” – one of the key points of their campaign.

Catherine Dait, an LGBTQ activist, told the BBC she was not necessarily against conversion therapy but understood why people might seek it.

“There is a growing opposition to that,” she said. “More people are aware that it does exist and people are taking a stance. I think that’s been the biggest obstacle for it to be defeated.”

Clare Rattan, another activist, added: “I think people who are being impacted are struggling with changing or moving with their sexuality.

“They would like to try and suppress the darkness of their sexuality and go along with the flock of heterosexuality.

“There are a lot of people struggling within that situation, being felt rejected by their family and struggling with depression, loneliness and feelings of worthlessness. And for them, it’s a reparative therapy, which is hellish and it’s not helping.”

The ‘purity movement’

The tradition of sexuality being defined in terms of heterosexuality was brought into question by Canadian academic and writer Janet Fitch who in 2009 claimed LGBTQ rights had made it possible for “vegetarians, born-again Christians, the ‘purity movement’, and polygamists” to be monogamous.

She was also criticised by prominent LGBTQ activist Anita Sarkeesian who said that she bore “no blame” for Fitch’s views but went on to say that Fitch is indicative of a subculture that is “silent about actual hatred toward LGBTQ people.”

It also emerged in the early 90s that Christian minister Ted Haggard was linked to a multimillion-dollar paedophile ring involving a teenage boy, which led him to resign from Colorado Springs’ megachurch, New Life Church.

Topics: community-and-society, laws, laws-and-legal-issues, united-states, canada

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