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Canada moves to outlaw anti-LGBTQ ‘conversion therapy’

Equality advocates have welcomed the Canadian government’s moves towards criminalising anti-LGBTQ ‘conversion therapy’.

The federal government has introduced legislation that would ban the discredited practice, meeting an election promise of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Conversion therapy may be run by churches or secular organisations, and can range from counselling to aversion treatments such as electric shocks in an attempt to force a person to be heterosexual or cisgender, according to The Guardian.

“Conversion therapy has been discredited and denounced by professionals and health associations in Canada, the United States, and around the world,” said Minister of Justice and Attorney-General David Lametti.

“It has no basis on science or facts.”

The proposed changes to Canada’s Criminal Code include offenses such as causing a person to undergo conversion therapy and advertising or profiting from the practice.

Australian LGBTIQ advocacy group just.equal has praised Canada’s proposed new legislation.

“We welcome Canada’s move to criminalise conversion practices and hope it encourages Australian legislators to do the same,” said spokesperson Brian Greig.

“Conversion practices are so cruel and destructive that a simple ban is inadequate and a criminal penalty must apply.

“We hope the ideology behind conversion practices – that LGBTIQ people are broken and need to be fixed – will also be dealt with in the Canadian proposal.”

In Australia, federal and state governments are under increasing pressure to similarly ban conversion therapy.

More than 62,000 people have signed a petition calling on the federal government to criminalise the practice.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison in 2018 dismissed the matter, saying, “It’s just not an issue for me, and I’m not planning to get engaged in the issue.”

Several state and territory governments have introduced bills to ban conversion therapy, but none have yet passed.

Queensland’s “ground-breaking” proposed legislation would be the country’s first clear ban, Star Observer has reported.

“Practices that try to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation or their gender identity have always been immoral and unethical – now they will be illegal,” said Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles in November.

“I strongly oppose any suggestion that being LGBTIQ is a disorder that requires medical treatment.”

The bill has so far been set back by criticism and debate.

New Zealand is also currently considering criminalisation of conversion therapy, with concerns raised that such a ban could interfere with religious freedom.

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