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A Canadian flag with the rainbow symbol for LGBTQ pride.
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Health

Canada Has Introduced Legislation to Ban Conversion Therapy

Why Global Citizens Should Care
Conversion therapy rejects the basic dignity and humanity of LGBTQ people, and can cause serious mental health problems. The United Nations has long called for an end to conversion therapy. Ending stigma and discrimination towards sexual minorities is an essential part of the goal to reduce inequality around the world. You can join us in taking action on this and related issues here

The Canadian government has formally introduced legislation to ban conversion therapy for LGBTQ citizens, according to HuffPost Canada.

The legislation aims to make it illegal to force minors to undergo conversion therapy in Canada or elsewhere, or to force anyone to undergo conversion therapy against their will. It also looks to outlaw advertising or the capacity to profit from conversion therapy, according to the BBC

“If passed, this bill will make Canada’s laws on conversion therapy the most progressive and comphrensive in the world,” Minister of Justice and Attorney General David Lametti told reporters, according to HuffPost Canada.

While LGBTQ advocates applauded the measure, some said that many people have been deeply traumatized by conversion therapy and require assistance to heal from the abusive practice.

Erika Muse, a trans woman who spoke at the announcement, said she was not sure if the legislation would have helped her, HuffPost Canada reported. Muse had originally prepared a speech to read at the announcement, but opted not to do so after reading the legislation.

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“My conversion therapy was not just detrimental talk therapy. It was the continual systematic denial of medical affirmations to my gender,” Muse said. “My body is a prison because of what my conversion therapist did to me. And I live with that every day."

Conversion therapy has been widely discredited. A study from the American Psychological Association found evidence that conversion therapy could cause negative side effects, such as loss of sexual desire, depression, suicidality, and anxiety. Another study in the Journal of Homosexuality found that those who were exposed to conversion efforts as adolescents were more likely to have mental health problems like depression and suicidal behaviour, as well as lower educational attainment and income.

A recent study found that as many as 47,000 sexual minority men in Canada have been exposed to conversion therapy.

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The provinces of Ontario, Manitoba, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia, as well as some cities, have already made efforts to limit the practice, according to the BBC.

Efforts to ban conversion therapy are gaining momentum worldwide. In the US, 20 states have banned conversion therapy for minors. In Europe, Malta has banned the practice and the UK announced an action plan to ban the practice in 2018.