Canada outlaws attempts to use any form of therapy to convert lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders.
Canada last week became the fifth country after Brazil, Ecuador, Germany and Malta to ban the practice of conversion therapy — supposed treatment that claims to be able to change an individual’s sexual orientation.
The new law provides for punishing anyone engaged in conversion therapy with up to five years in prison. Additionally, anyone found to be promoting, advertising, or profiting from providing such conversion therapy can face up to two years in prison.
The ban became official on Friday, weeks after Canadian lawmakers passed a law in the country’s parliament to this effect.
Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau announced the law on Twitter Saturday, saying that the Canadian bill makes the provision, promotion and the advertisement of conversion therapy a criminal offence.
“As of today, it’s official: Conversion therapy is banned in Canada. Our government’s legislation has come into force — which means it is now illegal to promote, advertise, benefit from, or subject someone to this hateful and harmful practice. LGBTQ2 rights are human rights,” Trudeau’s tweet read.
The US, Australia and Spain have provencial or state laws that make conversion therapy an offence. Argentina, Uruguay, Samoa, Fiji and Naura have indirect bans.
What is conversion therapy?
Conversion therapy is a set of supposed treatments claiming to influence or change the sexual orientation of an individual. It has been documented to include cruel practices, including torture.
International LGBTQ organisation ILGA World describes it as a pseudo-scientific practice that has a “destructive effect on people’s lives from a very early age”.
The practice is also discredited by the World Health Organization (WHO) and dozens of health professional associations from over 20 countries.
Religion and conversion therapy
The conversion therapies are often performed by religious leaders and even by licensed clinicians.
People who have endured conversion therapy recount that besides torture, the conversion therapy also includes being talked to, being embarrassed and also being subjected to medical or drug-induced treatments. Many practitioners also prescribe aversion therapy.
Religion plays a big part in the prevalence of conversion therapy, says Lucas Ramón Mendos of ILGA World.
“Our research shows that today, the main driving forces behind these harmful practices are religious leaders and prejudice. Many have ended up seeking ‘conversion therapy’ for themselves as they perceived their sexual orientation and gender identity in conflict with their religion,” Mendos says.
Wikimedia Image: Dublin LGBTQ Pride Parade 2019 [Photograaphed at City Quay] by William Murphy from Dublin, Ireland
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