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B.C. Greens introduce bill to restrict conversion therapy


B.C. Green leader Andrew Weaver announces a bill to ban so-called conversion therapies that seek to change gay sexual orientations in minors.


Rob Shaw / Postmedia

VICTORIA — B.C.’s Green party has introduced a bill in the legislature to ban so-called conversion therapies that seek to change gay sexual orientations in minors.

Green Leader Andrew Weaver said the legislation, if passed, would ban any medical professional from using conversion therapy techniques on anyone under age 19.

For adults, it would forbid any counselling, behaviour modification techniques or prescription medication designed to change a person’s sexual identity or gender identity from being billed to the government for MSP or other reimbursement.

The legislation doesn’t seek an outright ban on conversion therapy for adults, with Weaver noting that it becomes a more complicated matter of consent and free choice among adults.

“This bill will bring an end to the abhorrent practice of so-called conversion therapy,” said Weaver.

Banning the practice among minors and restricting its use on adults will “protect the health and safety of LGBTQ rights,” said Weaver.

Conversion therapy is the practice of trying to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity using counselling, psychiatry, psychology, behaviour modification or medication. It’s widely discredited, though not explicitly illegal in Canada.

In B.C., the government doesn’t fund or permit the practice of conversion therapy, said NDP MLA Spencer Chandra-Herbert.

“This legislation would put our current practice into law,” he said.

Chandra-Herbert described it as a “symbol” of not just LGBTQ2S+ rights, but also basic human rights.

Nova Scotia, Manitoba and Ontario already have legislation that restricts the practice.

Alberta had a working group tasked with banning gay conversion therapy, but it was cancelled by the new United Conservative Government.

“The direction Alberta is going in is the wrong direction for Canadian society,” said Weaver. “It’s so regressive.”

Peter Gajdics, a Vancouver gay rights activist who was subject to conversion therapy from a licensed psychiatrist in Victoria almost 30 years ago, said he believes conversion therapy is still occurring in some B.C. offices under the guise of treatment for depression and other disorders.

Gajdics pointed to religious websites that also promote and advocate for such therapies.

Weaver said he hopes to gain the support of the governing NDP and Opposition Liberals to pass the legislation unanimously this fall.

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