The recent efforts of the federal government to prohibit conversion therapy in Canada would allow the courts to approve the seizure or removal of online content advertising the discredited practice.
The new bill, which was presented on Monday, is the Liberal Party’s promised third shot at banning conversion therapy with a bill that the government aims to get passed before Christmas.
If enacted, the law would make it a crime to get someone to undergo conversion therapy, take a minor out of the country to get conversion therapy abroad, take advantage of the practice, or either advertise or promote it.
Conversion therapy refers to practices that attempt to change a person’s gender identity or sexual orientation. It has been widely discredited, including by the American Psychological Association and the Canadian Psychological Association.
Liberals propose banning conversion therapy in Canada
The government’s latest attempt to ban conversion therapy through legislation had not yet reached the Senate when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the federal election in August.
As a result, the bill died on the order paper when Parliament was dissolved ahead of the vote.
The previous legislation – C-6 – prohibited conversion therapy for children and adults who have not given their consent, but the latest version of the bill is expected to exclude practice.
In a background document published on the Justice Department’s website, officials said the bill, presented Monday, goes further than the previous one because it extends the ban beyond just young people.
AG explains why conversion therapy is a harmful practice, as liberals propose banning it
“This bill is similar to the previous Bill C-6, which was passed by the House of Commons in the previous parliament, but with one important difference,” the government said.
“It extends the previously proposed legislation to protect all Canadians – regardless of their age – from the harms of conversion therapy and to promote dignity and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and Two-Spirit (LGBTQ2) individuals.”
The legislation proposes the addition of four new criminal offenses. Under these, the offense of getting someone to undergo talk therapy will result in a maximum of five years in prison, just as the offense of removing a minor from Canada to undergo practice abroad.
The crimes of taking advantage of conversion therapy as well as advertising or promoting it will carry a maximum of two years behind bars.
Justice Minister David Lametti and Minister for Women and Gender Equality Marci Ien are set to hold a press conference at 4.30pm Eastern on Monday to explain the changes.
The bill is likely to win support from the NDP, Bloc Quebecois, the Green Party and many Conservative MPs, including party leader Erin O’Toole. More than half of the Tory caucus were opposed to the government’s previous attempts to crack down on practice.
With files from The Canadian Press.
Regina’s statute for conversion therapy will see final voting in August
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