Time for BC to Ban Conversion Therapy

UPDATE (29/11/19):

November 28th, 2019, the BC NDP officially killed the bill to ban conversion therapy by refusing to call it for debate.

UPDATE (22/11/19):

November 20th, 2019, Morgane Oger, who lists her title as Vice-President of the NDP,  raised concerns about the proposed provincial ban on conversion therapy, calling it “window dressing” and “dangerous.” Back on May 29th, she raised these same concerns and, following the BC Green Party’s responses, claimed she was crafting an amendment.

November 21st, 2019, Premier John Horgan announced that he’s awaiting action from the federal government, and Minister of Health, Adrian Dix, believes the legislation would be “purely symbolic.” With little time left before the fall session of the legislature ends, this is an indication that the BC NDP plan to kill the bill.

The proposed provincial ban on conversion therapy is not merely symbolic, it is incredibly important to survivors and for those who are being forced to endure this torture, it would implement penalties for the practice as outlined in the Offenses Act, and it would apply to the practice both inside and outside of the medical system.  While advocates for the bill are also supporting federal action through Criminal Code changes, this may take years, and the province has the ability to take action now.  Province’s have a history of intervening early in matters of human rights, such as with the legalization of same-sex marriage and the addition of gender identity and gender expression protections in the BC Human Rights Code.

The latest reluctance by the BC NDP to ban conversion therapy has been met with outrage by survivors of the practice and some view it as a betrayal of LGBTQ2+ people by a purportedly queer-friendly party.  The bill already has support from the BC Greens and BC Liberals and could pass without BC NDP support, however the decision to call the bill for debate and a subsequent vote lies with the BC NDP.  Despite push-back from the BC NDP, the BC Greens have been reaching out to the party since May to work together in a collaborative and non-partisan manner to ensure that concerns are addressed and the legislation can be passed.

This proposed legislation has the support of survivors of conversion therapy, LGBTQ2+ advocates, lawyers (including well-known human rights lawyer, barbara findlay) and experts.  Similar legislation has been successfully implemented provincially and municipally across Canada.

ORIGINAL STORY (21/09/19):

There is no credible scientific evidence indicating that someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity can be changed, and attempts made to force someone to live contrary to their sexual orientation or gender identity are abusive and trauma-inducing.  There is no place for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, as outlined in the BC Human Rights Code and the Human Rights Act of Canada.

The general consensus is that the federal government needs to ban conversion therapy, however, Trudeau’s Liberals have been dragging their feet.

In March 2019, the federal government responded to a plea by Canadians to ban conversion therapy by calling the practise “immoral,” but placing the responsibility for implementing a ban on provinces and territories.  Just months later, the federal government walked back those remarks and said they would look into banning conversion therapy, however, with an election looming it’s not clear that this change will come any time soon.

In lieu of a federal ban, it’s up to British Columbia to take action.  BC Green Party leader, Andrew Weaver, introduced legislation back in May to ban conversion therapy. At the time, he made it clear that he was looking for non-partisan collaboration to ensure this torture of LGBTQ2+ British Columbians ends.  Unfortunately, the BC NDP have been politicizing this issue while the BC Liberals have remained largely silent, as this video explains.

The BC NDP have called on the federal government to implement a ban as part of the Criminal Code, and that is ultimately the most effective means for implementing a ban, but that doesn’t let the provincial government off the hook in terms of their commitment to protecting the wellbeing of British Columbians.  The Ontario NDP has set precedent by achieving a ban on conversion therapy in their province, and the government of British Columbia has the power to implement a ban of their own that would fall under the Offenses Act, for which the proposed penalty is up to $2000, imprisonment up to 6 months, or both.

There is still time to change minds on this issue, so make sure to contact your MLA and ask them to vote in favour of a ban on conversion this Fall.


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