More Canadian queer men experienced efforts to change sexual or gender identity than estimated

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      A Canadian report from a national survey of queer men has found that experiences of attempts to change a person's sexuality or gender orientation have been more common than previously thought.

      The report came from the Community-Based Research Centre (CBRC), a Vancouver-based national health organization for men who have sex with men (MSM), conducts the Sex Now Survey. The survey is Canada’s longest-running survey of MSM health.

      Over 7,200 sexual minority men in Canada responded to the 2019 survey from November 1, 2019, to January 18, 2020.

      On February 24, CBRC released a report, based upon interim results of the survey, that found one out of five sexual minority men (gay, bisexual, trans, two-spirit, or queer) in Canada have experienced efforts to change their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

      Efforts included informal or formal pressure in efforts from licensed health providers, counsellors, and faith-based authority figures.

      While younger male respondents reported more exposures to such efforts than older men (35 percent in ages 15 to 19 compared to over 10 percent for those 60 years or older), trans and non-binary respondents reported more experiences than cisgender peers.

      Out of those that did experience efforts, almost 40 percent (or eight percent of the total respondents of the survey) underwent conversion therapy. Consequently, an estimated 47,000 men in Canada have experienced conversion therapy, which is much higher than the previously estimated 20,000 Canadians.

      Conversion therapy is a scientifically discredited, fraudulent, and harmful treatment that attempts to change an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

      In British Columbia, 23 percent of respondents reported exposure to change efforts while the national average was 20 percent. The highest levels were reported in the northern territories (28 percent) while the lower levels were in Quebec (15 percent).

      In June 2018, Vancouver became the first Canadian city to ban conversion therapy.

      Then in August 2019, the B.C. Ministry of Health sent a letter to Canada's minister of justice that requested conversion therapy to be made illegal. 

      CBRC states in its Sex Now Survey interim report that "all levels of government should work to undermine the efforts of people and organizations" conducting sexual or gender identity change efforts "through legislative bans and positive, affirming programs or campaigns".

      The report states that these Sex Now Survey results are being shared to inform "immediate policy action", including the proposed federal conversion therapy ban.  

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook. You can also follow the Straight's LGBT coverage on Twitter at @StraightLGBT or on Facebook.