The board and staff at B.C. queer resource centre Qmunity, based in Vancouver, issued the following statement on April 16 addressed to Cloverdale-Langley City MP Tamara Jansen in response to comments she made on April 23 in the House of Commons about conversion therapy:
Dear Hon. Tamara Jansen, MP, Cloverdale–Langley City,
Qmunity, BC’s Queer, Trans and Two-Spirit Resource Centre, is writing you today in response to your April 16, 2021, remarks during a parliamentary debate on government Bill C-6, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Conversion Therapy).
Sexual orientation or gender identity change efforts, commonly known as “Conversion Therapy” are abusive and dangerous practices that frequently target youth who lack the ability to consent or advocate for themselves. This has long lasting, harmful consequences in the lives of those who’ve had it inflicted upon them.
Your comments in the House of Commons made it clear you either do not understand this, or more callously, you have decided that this doesn’t matter. We at Qmunity are disturbed by your disregard for the safety of LGBTQ2SAI+ Canadians.
After using an unfortunately worded biblical quote that implied LGBTQ2SIA+ people were unclean, you shared an offensive story that suggested “lesbian activities” were responsible for causing depression and challenges with self esteem.
As an organization with a 40-year history of providing social services for B.C.’s queer community, such as mental health counselling, we are compelled to speak up to correct the record.
Lesbians are at elevated risk for mental health challenges such as depression or low self esteem as a result of the negative homophobic and misogynistic abuse they are subjected to throughout their lives. When you use your time in parliamentary debate to police women’s sexuality and suggest “lesbian activity” is harmful to self-esteem or causes depression, you not only legitimize these oppressive behaviours and attitudes, you also engage in that abuse directly.
Given the nature of your remarks we want to be very clear: there is nothing wrong or harmful about lesbian activity. In 2021, we would hope this goes without saying. Lesbian Canadians have every right to be hurt or angered by your comments. Moreover, by failing to support Bill C-6, and even going so far as to start a petition to oppose it, you are complicit with the harm inflicted on LGBTQ2SAI+ people by conversion therapy.
We were pleased to read a recent report from Global News that indicated you intend to reach out to your colleagues who were offended by your remarks, but we feel strongly that this is insufficient. Your LGBTQ2SAI+ constituents should matter to you as well. Your remarks were public, and your apology should also be public.
Your remarks in the House of Commons debate were bigoted and blatantly homophobic, and LGBTQ2SAI+ Canadians deserve better then to have their relationships denigrated and insulted by their elected leaders.
We demand you to retract your statement and issue a public apology.
Qmunity staff and board