The Canadian lower house of parliament voted Tuesday to ban the practice of so-called conversion therapy, a process intended to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. A majority of lawmakers voted in favor of a bill sponsored by sexual orientation and gender diversity minister Randy Boissonnault, overturning a previous ban passed in 2015 by another government committee. Critics say conversion therapy attempts to change someone’s sexual orientation, or gender identity, and advocates say that is a “harmful practice” that can cause severe mental health issues.
“It is torture,” said Vaishali Gupta, a representative for sex worker advocacy group TOUT, in a committee meeting last month.
Just a few weeks ago, Angus reports, the National Film Board released a documentary — featuring England soccer player Adam Johnson — in which gay men who are going through the conversion therapy system are openly discussing the lives they could have led if they had not undergone it.
“I am glad that I have these opportunities to have this truth out there,” said one man named Francis. “But what happens in practice? What happens in my life now? What happens to the gay club I was in? What happens to my past love?”
This week’s vote means the therapy can be outlawed in all provinces of Canada except Quebec, which had already passed a bill banning the practice.
The fact that conversion therapy is banned by most of the world’s major religions including Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism, was apparently lost on a politician who told CNN in December that he believes gay people must “deliver a life of chastity” in order to live a meaningful life. “Like everybody I think we respect everybody’s diversity,” Bruce Heyman, the ambassador to Mexico and Canada, said in a statement. “That does not mean they have to agree with you. I’ve always said you need to be tolerant and respectful of people and religions and beliefs.”
Mr. Heyman added that in any case, “Canada has no intention of tolerating any such efforts to convert gay, lesbian, or bisexual people to heterosexuality. That’s just not something that I agree with.”
Correction: This story has been updated to reflect the fact that conversion therapy is banned in most provinces of Canada except Quebec.
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