In June 2018, Vancouver became the first city in Canada to ban conversion therapy. British Columbia has similarly taken steps to end the anti-LGBTQ practice.
Now the B.C. government says it wants the federal government to do the same for the entire country.
Today (August 1), the B.C. Ministry of Health said it has delivered a letter to Canada’s minister of justice, “condemning” conversion therapy and requesting that Justin Trudeau’s government make the practice illegal by adding it to the Criminal Code of Canada.
"Conversion therapy is nothing more than ignorance and prejudice disguised as medical treatment," said Spencer Chandra Herbert, the NDP MLA for Vancouver-West End, quoted in a media release. "This shameful, unethical exercise has no scientific basis whatsoever and is embedded in hateful, homophobic and transphobic ideologies."
Conversion therapy (also known as reparative therapy or the ex-gay movement) is a pseudoscientific practice wherein an organization or an individual attempts to change an LGBTQ person’s sexual orientation to heterosexual. Techniques include what practitioners call counselling, psychoanalytic therapy, and religious intervention. In the past, conversion therapy has also involved physical methods such as chemical castration, hormonal treatment, and surgical lobotomies.
Vancouver’s 2018 ban on conversion therapy consists of a bylaw that forbids businesses from offering the service and forbids any business from using pseudoscientific techniques to attempt to change a person’s sexual orientation.
Across B.C., the province has rules that prohibit the delivery of conversion therapy through the public health-care system and that prohibit regulated professionals (such as doctors and clinical counsellors) from practising conversion therapy.
"If you are gay, you do not need to be fixed. If you are trans, you are accepted here in B.C. No matter who you are, you are beautiful, and we see you," Chandra Herbert, a signatory to the letter, said quoted in today’s release. "As communities throughout British Columbia celebrate Pride, we know there's much more work to do and we won't stop until the job is done."
B.C.’s letter to the Canadian government also includes a warning.
“Our message to any health professional offering or planning on offering this abusive treatment is simple,” it reads. “You will be reported, and you will face disciplinary action.”