Raising awareness in British Columbia about the new conversion therapy Criminal Code offences

News release

Raising awareness in British Columbia about the new conversion therapy Criminal Code offences

July 20, 2022 – Vancouver, British Columbia – Department of Justice Canada

Diversity and inclusion are among Canada’s greatest strengths. Everyone should be able to live a true and authentic life, free from violence and discrimination, no matter who they are or whom they love.

Today, the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, accompanied by the Honourable Hedy Fry, Member of Parliament for Vancouver Centre, announced funding to the Vancouver Community-Based Research Centre, for a project that supports the implementation of legislative changes to criminalize conversion therapy. This organization will raise awareness about the new Criminal Code offences related to conversion therapy, and bring light to some of the most vulnerable people in the community.

Conversion therapy practices aim to change an individual’s sexual orientation to heterosexual, to change an individual’s gender identity to cisgender, or to change their gender expression to match the sex they were assigned at birth. They harm and further stigmatize sexual and gender-diverse persons and undermine their equality and dignity. They reflect myths and stereotypes about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and Two-Spirit (LGBTQ2+) communities, particularly that their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression are wrong. These harmful practices also reinforce heteronormative and cis-normative ideas, as well as gender-conformity on LGBTQ2+ individuals. Changes to the Criminal Code that came into force in January 2022 criminalized conversion therapy practices.

Justice Canada has provided a total of $100,000 for this project under the Victims Fund. This investment supports the Government of Canada’s commitment to protect all Canadians – regardless of age – from the harms of conversion therapy and from its commercialization.

The funding has supported the Community-Based Research Centre to:

  • coordinate a pan-Canadian, bilingual consultation and needs assessment
  • develop and disseminate a series of bilingual public legal education and information resources on conversion therapy practices and conversion therapy Criminal Code offences in Canada

Quotes

“Too many Canadians have undergone conversion therapy and now live with its harmful effects. I applaud the tremendous work that the Community-Based Research Centre is doing on helping survivors of conversion therapy understand their rights and find legal resources. In January we banned conversation therapy and made it a criminal offence.  No one should have to face the devastating effects of this criminal practice.”

The Honourable David Lametti, P.C., Q.C., M.P.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

“The psychological and physical trauma of conversion therapy has a cruel and devastating impact on LGBTQ2+ communities in Canada.  We’ve come a long way on LGBTQ2+ rights. I commend the Community-Based Research Centre for the important work they are doing to raise awareness on this among the LGBTQ2+ community. Their project is a great example of how we can increase access to justice and empower survivors.”

The Honourable Hedy Fry
Member of Parliament for Vancouver Centre

“Preventing conversion ‘therapy’ practices requires a comprehensive and community-led strategy to build broader awareness and understanding of the harm and trauma they inflict on Two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, and non-binary and gender diverse (2SLGBTQ+) people. Criminalizing conversion ‘therapy’ practices sends a powerful message that changing, denying, or suppressing the identities or expression of 2SLGBTQ+ people is wrong, but we also need to ensure that communities are better equipped to provide affirmation and support to 2SLGBTQ+ people. This project provides an important opportunity to better understand knowledge and capacity gaps among key stakeholders, and to address education needs regarding conversion “therapy” and the new Criminal Code offences.”

Michael Kwag,
Director - Knowledge Exchange and Policy Development, British-Columbia

Quick facts

  • Federal legislation to criminalize conversion therapy became law in 2022.

  • Ontario, Nova Scotia, PEI, Yukon and Québec have enacted their own legislation addressing different aspects of conversion therapy in their jurisdiction. Other jurisdictions have implemented non-legislative measures, such as Manitoba, which issued a position statement indicating that it expects health professionals to ensure that conversion therapy is not practised in the province.

  • In addition to Criminal Code legislation, some Canadian municipalities, such as Vancouver, B.C.; Calgary, Edmonton, St. Albert, Strathcona County, Lethbridge, Wood Buffalo and Spruce Grove, Alberta; Saskatoon and Regina, Saskatchewan; and Kingston, Ontario have expressly banned the practice and promotion of conversion therapy within their city limits.

Associated links

Contacts

For more information, media may contact:

Chantalle Aubertin
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Justice
613-992-6568
Chantalle.Aubertin@justice.gc.ca

Media Relations
Department of Justice Canada
613-957-4207
media@justice.gc.ca

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