Action invitation: support bans on conversion therapy

Protest against “conversion” “therapy” in Edmonton, Alberta, by local citizens, including church members.

Federal government to work on criminalizing “conversion therapy”: our support for this and other initiatives needed

In the spring of 2019 many in our movement were disappointed when the federal government (a Liberal majority) said that it could not ban conversion therapy through Health Canada. It cited health as a provincial jurisdiction. (What is “conversion” “therapy”? See this overview from CBC.)

Many turned to, or continued, working with their municipalities, provinces, and territories, asking them to follow MB and ON’s lead and outright ban this deeply harmful practice. As one example, in December Edmonton city council prepared to debate a ban within the city, as Alberta has not banned such “therapy” and indeed, more than a few in the province and its government support it.

Thank you to all, including many AUSE members, who are carrying this struggle forward. Special thanks to Gary Simpson in Edmonton for his research, advocacy, and advice.

In December 2019, the now-Liberal minority government said it would move to place conversion or reparative therapy in the Criminal Code, making the practice illegal and punishable.

As some in our Affirming movement reminded us, we need to speak out in support of this, although we also need to be aware that the proposal has some problems and limits. For example, the proposed Criminal Code amendment would only apply to minors, and this may be the only way such an amendment would be permitted under the Charter.

Whatever the advocacy options, whether national or local, we know that our advocacy and education efforts are important and much-needed.  We must continue to advocate for regional and local responses, like the one currently before Calgary’s council. And we need to make it clear to our faith communities that conversion therapy is alive and in practice across Canada to this day.

Yet the federal government’s proposal is one promising step forward. And the mostly Christian groups who support this abusive practice will be sure to be in loud opposition. Please read up on the government’s plans, and then if you are so moved, contact your Member of Parliament, no matter their party, and briefly express your support for this measure and your opposition to so-called conversion therapy. If you identify as a church member or Christian, also make that clear to your MP. Consider asking your community of faith, congregation, or parish to write such a letter.

If you’re a United Church member, remember that your Regional Council is one place to advocate, and that proposals for advocacy initiatives is an important way to move church policy or motivate action. Such proposals should be consider now for regional gatherings in May and June.

We need an end to this Christian-justified, cissexist, heterosexist abuse. Please add your voice where you can.