Canada presents bill banning conversion therapy

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A Canadian flag in the rainbow colours of LGBT prideImage source, Getty Images
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The so-called therapy is widely discredited

Canada's government is moving ahead with plans for a nationwide ban on conversion therapy.

Newly proposed federal legislation would make it illegal to have a minor undergo the practice or have someone undergo it against their will.

The so-called therapy seeks to help change someone's sexuality or gender identity and is widely discredited.

Federal Justice Minister David Lametti said the practice was "premised on a lie".

The legislation, introduced on Monday, proposes five changes to the federal criminal code related to conversion therapy.

If it is passed, it would become illegal to:

  • Cause a minor to undergo conversion therapy
  • Remove a minor from Canada to undergo the practice
  • Cause a person to undergo conversion therapy against their will
  • Profit from providing conversion therapy
  • Advertise an offer to provide conversion therapy

Mr Lametti said the proposed bill did not target private conversations about sexual orientation or gender identity with the likes of teachers, school counsellors, faith leaders, or mental health professionals.

The opposition federal NDP said it would work with the minority Liberal government to pass the legislation.

Conversion therapy has been widely discredited by major psychotherapy and medical associations in many countries, including Canada, the US and the UK, and is opposed by the World Health Organization and the United Nations.

Various forms of conversion therapy continue to be carried out across the world on LGBT people, despite scientific evidence that it is harmful and ineffective.

In 2018, thousands of Canadians rallied behind two petitions calling for a nationwide ban on conversion therapy, but the federal government rejected the plea at the time.

Four provinces in Canada - Ontario, Manitoba, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia - have already taken steps to limit conversion therapy within their jurisdictions, as have some cities.

Canada is not the first country to look at implementing restrictions or bans on the practice.

It is banned in Ecuador and Malta.

In November, Germany published a draft law intended to stop groups offering the service to people under 18.

In 2018, the UK announced plans to bring forward proposals to end conversion therapy, which it called a "harmful practice".

In the US, 20 states have moved ahead with a prohibition on conversion therapy for minors, including California, which did so in 2012, and Utah, which did so this year.