Parliament passed a bill banning LGBTQ2S+ conversion therapy in Canada on June 22, however, Kootenay-Columbia MP, Rob Morrison, voted against it.
In a statement, Morrison said he voted against the bill because the government politicized the bill at a committee level and refused to support two amendments put forward by the Conservative party that he claims would add clarity to the bill and ensure that “voluntary conversations between individuals and their teachers, school counsellors, pastoral counsellors, faith leaders, doctors, mental-health professionals, friends or family members are not criminalized.”
He said he is committed to ensuring protections are in place to ban conversion therapy in Canada and that the law targets coercive practices and not conversations.
“It is disappointing the government refused to support reasonable amendments at the Justice Committee which would have added greater clarity to the legislation,” he said in the release.
“The government knows that most Canadians don’t support conversion therapy, they also know that most Canadians don’t want conversations between a parent and a child to be criminalized either.”
Morrison was one of 63 MPs who voted against the bill, 62 of which were Conservative and one independent. Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole voted in favour.
Morrison did, however, vote in favour of second reading but didn’t speak when the bill came up for debate.
If approved by the Senate and adopted, Bill C-6 amends Canada’s Criminal Code.
Under the act, as it stands June 22, 2021, conversion therapy is defined as “a practice, treatment or service designed to change a person’s sexual orientation to heterosexual, to change a person’s gender identity or gender expression to cisgender or to repress or reduce non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behaviour or non-cisgender gender expression.”
The new amendments would see the conviction of people who force conversion therapy on someone without consent or cause a child under 18 to undergo conversion therapy. Jail sentences would be a maximum of five years.
Those who knowingly promote or advertise conversion therapy or benefit financially from the practice could be sentenced to two years in prison.
Conversion therapy was discredited by the Pan American Health Organization in 2012, the Canadian Psychological Association in 2015, the World Psychiatric Association in 2016, and the Independent Forensic Expert Group in 2020.
A report from the United Nations Independent Expert in 2020, called for a global ban of the practice, saying it inflicts severe pain and suffering, resulting in long-lasting psychological and physical damage.
The B.C. government called on the federal government in 2019 to amend the Criminal Code to outlaw the practice, in a letter co-signed by the Attorney General and the Minister of Health.
In the United States, 20 states have banned conversion therapy for minors. Conversion therapy was banned in Europe’s Malta five years ago and more recently Germany also made the practice illegal.