Canada bans “conversion therapy”, threatens therapists with prison
the Canadian The Senate passed a sweeping ban on conversion therapy on Tuesday after Senators agreed to rush the bill through the legislative process without in-depth debate, committee study or a vote.
Bill C-4, which received Royal Assent on Wednesday, amends Canada’s Criminal Code to criminalize forcing someone to undergo conversion therapy, removing a child from Canada for conversion therapy, taking advantage of providing conversion therapy and advertising or promoting the practice.
Penalties for new offenses range from two to five years in prison.
Previous versions of the bill have failed in Parliament, but the current bill goes further than other editions by prohibiting consenting adults from seeking conversion therapy, which it defines in part as advice to “crack down.” or reduce non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behavior ”.
Also prohibited is therapy intended to “suppress a person’s non-cisgender gender identity”, as well as “suppress or reduce a person’s gender expression that does not conform to the sex assigned to the person. person at birth ”.
Critics of the bill claim that its definitions are too broad to violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Canadian Psychological Association (CPA), which supported the bill, defines conversion therapy as “any formal therapeutic attempt to change the sexual orientation of bisexual, gay and lesbian persons to heterosexuals”.
Marty Moore, a lawyer with the Calgary Center for Constitutional Freedoms Justice, said the definition in Bill C-4 “goes much further than that.”
“This law is by far the most direct attack we have seen on free speech and freedom of conscience and religion,” Moore said. “The Charter violations present in this bill are of great concern.
Moore pointed out that the bill’s preamble describes as a “myth” the belief that heterosexuality and cisgender identity are preferable, which he warned has potential implications for Canadians whose religions promote sexuality exclusively between a married man and woman.
“Teaching and spreading these faiths, if it comes into contact with an LGBTQ person, whether or not that LGBTQ person seeks that advice, the spread, teaching and dissemination of these faiths is likely to be classified as conversion therapy, ”he said.
Since the bill combines “promotion and publicity” conversion therapy with the same parts of the Criminal Code dealing with child pornography, he said Canadian courts will now have the power to seize and prohibit such expressions. as if it were child pornography.
It remains to be seen how the courts will enforce the new criminal offenses, Moore said, but he anticipates enforcement will be complaint-based.
“You can only imagine how this kind of allegation could be very present in many acrimonious situations, perhaps even acrimonious situations between parents and children, between churches and parishioners, between married couples in the process of divorce. “, did he declare.
The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, David Lametti, who introduced the bill, has denied claims that the Criminal Code changes would effectively criminalize “a simple supportive conversation with someone about their direction. sexuality, gender identity or gender expression ”.
“This bill targets something quite different: people who are actively working and providing services designed to change a person’s gender identity or gender expression to match their assigned sex. the birth or sexual orientation of a person heterosexual, ”Lametti told Fox News. Digital in a press release. “These dangerous practices must stop.”
Jose Ruba, whose Calgary-based organization Free to take care advocated that LGBTQ Canadian adults be allowed to seek whatever therapy they want without government interference, said Canadians across the country are still “very concerned that this is a reach excessive extreme “.
“The government claims it won’t affect private conversations between a child and their parents, for example, but no such exemption exists in the law,” Ruba said.
“The only exemption they have is this caveat that says as long as you don’t try to favor one sexual orientation over another, you are still allowed to have advice and a conversation. The problem is, qu does that mean? “
Ruba is especially concerned that the changes to the Criminal Code will have a chilling effect.
After Calgary spent a municipal bylaw Banning conversion therapy in 2020, he said members of his organization called a dozen local psychologists and posed as patients seeking treatment for gay porn addiction.
When they learned what the regulations said, he recalls, several councilors were reluctant to have a conversation with them.
“At least three counselors, psychologists told us, we could come for porn addiction counseling except we weren’t allowed to mention it was gay porn addiction because ‘they couldn’t help us with that, “he said.
“And that is why we think it is in fact a violation of Charter rights, because it discriminates, ironically, against the very people it claims to protect,” he added.