The Canadian government just introduced legislation to ban LGBTQ+ conversion therapy. The legislation would make it a crime to cause a person to undergo conversion therapy, to advertise or profit from conversion therapy, or to remove a minor from Canada.
“Conversion therapy has been discredited and denounced by professionals and health associations in Canada, the United States and around the world. It has no basis on science or facts,” David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, said in a statement (via Reuters). Lametti introduced the bill along with Bardish Chagger, Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth. The ban was one of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party campaign promises in 2019.
The legislation defines conversion therapy as “any practice designed to change a person’s sexual orientation to heterosexual, gender identity to one that matches the sex assigned at birth, or to repress or reduce non-heterosexual sexual attraction or behaviors.” In addition to banning the practice itself, the law would also allow courts to order the removal of any advertisements for conversion therapy.
Conversion therapy has been shown to pose a severe risk to mental health; it can cause depression and an increased risk of suicide attempts. It’s already banned in some Canadian cities, including Vancouver and Calgary. Ontario became the first province to pass a ban in 2015.
Canada’s new bill is expected to pass. If it does, the country will become the fourth in the world to make conversion therapy illegal, after Brazil, Ecuador, and Malta.
“If passed, this bill would make Canada’s laws on conversion therapy the most progressive and comprehensive in the world,” Lametti said.
LGBTQ+ advocates hope that the ban also sets a precedent for other countries to follow.
In the U.S., conversion therapy is banned in 20 states, including New York, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Maine. Virginia recently became the first state in the South to outlaw conversion therapy.