A proposed new law in British Columbia would ban the controversial practice of attempting to change a person’s sexuality.
Green Leader Andrew Weaver tabled legislation Monday that would stop the use of so-called conversion therapy in the province for those under 19 years old.
The therapy is abusive and damaging to people and the Sexual Orientation and Gender Protection Act aims to ensure the health and safety of the members of the province’s LGBTQ-plus community, he said.
“This bill is designed to bring an end to the abhorrent practice of so-called conversion therapy, a form of transphobia and homophobia,” Weaver said at a news conference prior to introducing the legislation.
“Conversion therapy is an abusive, dangerous practice that should be banned to protect the health and safety of the LGBTQ-plus community, children and youth in particular,” said Weaver, who was joined by about a half dozen supporters of the legislation, including a man who said he underwent six years of conversion therapy.
Peter Gajdics of Vancouver joined Weaver at the news conference. He said he had counselling and medical treatments in an attempt to “correct his sexual orientation,” which didn’t work and laws are needed to protect others.
Gajdics said he later wrote a book about his experiences, “The Inheritance of Shame: A Memoir.”
He said conversion therapy is “an assault on a person’s sense of self, their identity and their soul. Gay and trans people do not need to be changed, cured or fixed. They need to be loved and accepted.”
Weaver said the proposed B.C. law would prohibit conversion therapy for youth under 19 by health professionals, reject payment or reimbursement to health insurance and wouldn’t allow public funds to be used for conversion therapy, including medical services premiums.
Opposition party bills usually don’t become law, but Weaver said he’s hopeful the bill will be supported in the legislature by the governing New Democrats and Opposition Liberals.
There are only a few days of the scheduled legislative session left and Weaver said if the proposed legislation isn’t passed this week, he expects the bill, or a reworked version like it, to be passed in the fall sitting.
The B.C. Health Ministry said in a statement that conversion therapy has never been covered under the medical services plan and health professional cannot bill the care system for the service.
Vancouver council passed a bylaw last year banning techniques that attempt to persuade people to change their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Ontario and Nova Scotia passed laws in 2015 banning conversion therapy while Manitoba told its health authorities and medical colleges not to support the practice.