House unanimously agree to pass conversion therapy ban bill

The House of Commons agreed unanimously on Wednesday to pass Bill C-4, which aims to put a ban to conversion therapy in Canada.

Roberto Wakerell-Cruz Montreal QC

The House of Commons agreed unanimously on Wednesday to pass Bill C-4, which aims to put a ban to conversion therapy in Canada.

The Bill is the first to pass the House in the 44th Parliament.

The Bill will make it so that conversion therapy, through all of its stages and for both adults and children, be banned. The definition of what constitutes conversion therapy has also been expanded.

Conversion therapy, as such, no longer means the approach of trying to turn those who have sexual orientations other than heterosexual into heterosexuals. The revised definition of conversion therapy also includes attempts to help someone with gender dysphoria desist from that dysphoria into being at ease with their born body. The ban on conversion therapy for gender identity could be read to mean that if a person, no matter their age, identifies as transgender, that identity must be accepted without question.

The preamble of the new bill states:

"Whereas conversion therapy causes harm to the persons who are subjected to it; Whereas conversion therapy causes harm to society because, among other things, it is based on and propagates myths and stereotypes about sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, including the myth that heterosexuality, cisgender gender identity, and gender expression that conforms to the sex assigned to a person at birth are to be preferred over other sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions; And whereas, in light of those harms, it is important to discourage and denounce the provision of conversion therapy in order to protect the human dignity and equality of all Canadians..."

Under the new Bill, the practices of conversion therapy will introduce four new Criminal Code offences.

According to the Bill, "This enactment amends the Criminal Code to, among other things, create the following offences:
(a) causing another person to undergo conversion therapy;
(b) doing anything for the purpose of removing a child from Canada with the intention that the child undergo conversion therapy outside Canada;
(c) promoting or advertising conversion therapy; and
(d) receiving a financial or other material benefit from the provision of conversion therapy."

If passed, new punishments for conversion therapy would include up to five years in prison. The promotion, advertising, or profiting from conversion therapy would also see prison time of up to two years.

Justice David Lametti, who sponsored the Bill, said it was a "fantastic day" for Parliament.

"There are clearly people in the Conservative caucus who exercised a great deal of leadership on the issue, and I thank them, I thank them sincerely. They have done a very important thing for Canadians. This is what we can do when Parliament works together," Lametti said, according to CTV News.

"If we can now work hard to get this through the Senate quickly, less Canadians are going to suffer."


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