Feds tabling new bill to ban conversion therapy on Monday
OTTAWA -- On Monday, the federal government will be tabling an enhanced version of their bill to largely ban conversion therapy practices in Canada, moving forward with a stronger version of previously-halted legislation.
The version of the bill coming next week is expected to include more teeth and potentially a wider reach when it comes to cracking down on the harmful practice.
Conversion “therapy” as it’s been called, seeks to change a person's sexual orientation to heterosexual or gender identity to cisgender, and has been opposed by numerous health and human rights groups.
The new bill has been put on the House of Commons notice paper for Monday, with tabling expected that afternoon.
The previous iteration of the bill, known as C-6, was halted in the Senate, after Conservatives refused to fast-track it at the end of the sitting in June. The legislation then died when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau triggered the summer federal election.
During the campaign, the Liberals, Conservatives and New Democrats all committed to ban the practice if elected.
In their election platform, the Liberals promised to re-introduce legislation within the first 100 days of a new mandate, committing then that they would “eliminate the practice of conversion therapy for everyone, and extend coverage of the ban to include people over 18 years of age.”
“We have taken this serious from the very beginning because we kept pushing it, even during a global pandemic, and it is going to be an absolute priority for us, if we get re-elected,” Trudeau told CTVNews.ca in an exclusive interview on the topic while on the campaign trail.
The previous version of the bill looked to make it a crime to subject children to conversion therapy, or to cause an adult to undergo conversion therapy against their will. It also looked to stamp out anyone profiting from providing, or advertising the practice.
The offenses would not apply to people who are providing support to people questioning their sexual orientation or gender identity, such as teachers or school counsellors, faith leaders, doctors or mental health professionals.
Justice Minister David Lametti, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth Marci Ien, and out gay minister Randy Boissonnault, who previously was the government’s special advisor on LGBTQ2S+ issues, will lead the announcement.
It’s expected that members of the LGBTQ2S+ community, which the government says it has been consulting in the lead-up to presenting the bill, will be a part of its unveiling.
Banning conversion therapy has already been named as one of four key priority legislative initiatives that the Liberals want to see become law before the end of the year.
While the government has pushed the argument that LGBTQ2S+ folks should not be subjected to the so-called “therapy” one day longer, past bills on this subject have faced roadblocks before, including by the Liberals’ management of their legislative agenda and past assertions it was a provincial matter.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has said his party would help the Liberals move the bill through the House, after calling out the government for not prioritizing the bill earlier in the last Parliament.
After 62 Conservative MPs voted against the ban last year, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole’s platform stated that he wants to see the practice eradicated, though with amendments to clarify that “the ban does not criminalize non-coercive conversations,” a concern pushed by those opposed to the bill.
While it’s possible it could pass through the House in the next few weeks, it remains to be seen whether Senators once again resist passing the legislation on a contracted timeline.