Jan 11, 2022

Canada: Conversion Therapy Ban

December 8, 2021

Today, December 7, 2021, the Canadian Senate passed Bill C4 making conversion therapy practices a federal criminal offence. They did so unanimously, without any debate or input, despite receiving 4000 emails from concerned constituents in the past 24 hours.

Read the Bill here

On the surface, this may seem like good news because, like most people, we oppose conversion therapy, as commonly understood – coercive, abusive efforts to make gay people straight. But, we did lobby for changes to the wording of this legislation for several reasons:

It conflates “gender identity” with sexual orientation, which are not the same thing.

Their definition of conversion therapy doesn’t specify coercion or any other method, thus overreaching into ethical types of therapy.

It uses the unscientific, unmeasurable terms “gender identity” and “gender expression” rather than the clinical terminology “gender dysphoria” or “gender incongruence” making it unclear what is considered permissible treatment for the clinical condition of gender dysphoria.

Due to the uncertainties, this legislation is likely to make counsellors afraid to work with clients who have gender dysphoria and it will make it difficult for counsellors to develop competencies. What will this mean for people with gender dysphoria who either don’t want medical interventions or can’t take hormones for medical reasons? This Bill doesn’t allow people to choose which therapy they prefer or need.

From the beginning, we recognized this Bill for what it is. (HINT: it’s not about conversion therapy)

This Bill is a political maneuver to code Queer Theory into law, and undermine any other theoretical or clinical model. They rushed it through ahead of the release of the upcoming version 8 of the WPATH Standards of Care. (See below) It is not a coincidence that this Bill has been aggressively pushed by activists just as gender specialists all over the world have been sounding alarms about unsafe practices in gender medicine, and the need for psychological perspectives.

Fortunately, the legislation in Canada does include this exclusion clause:

For greater certainty, this definition does not include a practice, treatment or service that relates to the exploration or development of an integrated personal identity — such as a practice, treatment or service that relates to a person’s gender transition — and that is not based on an assumption that a particular sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression is to be preferred over another.

What’s especially strange about this Bill is the last minute changes to some of its parameters. When the Bill was first tabled as Bill C6, Justice Minister David Lametti publicly stated that they would NOT limit an adult’s right to choose the kind of therapy they want, because that would be a clear violation of the Charter of Rights & Freedoms. But when they re-tabled it as Bill C4, they did exactly that. It appears the Canadian government delibrately sabotaged its own faulty Bill, delivering on its election promise to get the Bill passed, then passing the buck to the courts to clean up the mess. In the end, the only thing that really matters to a government is winning votes.

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