Canada: Lawmakers pass bill banning ′conversion therapy′ | News | DW | 23.06.2021

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Canada: Lawmakers pass bill banning 'conversion therapy'

Canadian MPs overwhelming voted in favor of banning "therapies" that seek to change people's sexual orientation. The bill's passing is seen as a win for the LGBTQ+ community.

Demonstrators wave rainbow flags in support of the LGBTQ+ community

Canada's justice minister called the conversion therapy ban legislation 'the most progressive and comprehensive in the world'

Canada's House of Commons on Tuesday voted in favor of a bill criminalizing LGBTQ+ conversation therapy in the country.

Lawmakers in the lower house of Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favor, passing the measure by a vote of 263 to 63. Half of the main opposition Conservative party voted against it, despite support from party leaders. 

The bill is a win for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's minority government, which had pledged to end the practice, regarded in much of the West as a human rights violation.

It will now proceed to Canada's Senate.

Minister of Justice David Lametti wrote on Twitter that the bill was "about protecting the dignity and equality rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirit individuals, by criminalizing conversion therapy-related conduct."

He further said that "if passed, #BillC6 will make Canada's criminal laws on conversion therapy the most progressive and comprehensive in the world."

What is conversion therapy?

The bill defines conversion therapy as  a practice "designed to change an individual's sexual orientation to heterosexual or gender identity to cisgender or to reduce non-heterosexual sexual attraction or sexual behavior."

The new bill would prohibit subjecting a minor to the practice, either in Canada or abroad.

It would also prevent forcing adults from undergoing the practice against their will. In addition, no one would be allowed to profit from or advertise it.

According to an independent expert report to the United Nations, conversion attempts around the world can include beatings, rape, electrocution, forced medication, confinement, verbal humiliation, and other acts of physical, psychological, and sexual abuse.

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How prevalent is the practice in Canada?

A recent survey revealed that 47,000 Canadian men who identify as part of a minority sexuality group had been subjected to conversion therapy.

Criminalizing conversion therapy was one of the Liberal Party's main 2019 election pledges.

A similar bill was introduced in March 2020. Despite the support of most lawmakers, it failed to pass before Parliament was suspended for a summer break, as the coronavirus pandemic upended the legislative agenda.

on/msh (AFP, Reuters)

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