CANADA: The potentially harmful conversion therapy has been banned by the Canadian government on Friday. With the new law, Canada’s criminal code will forbid people from forcing someone, promoting or advertising, and profiting from conversion therapy. Any person that violates the law will be sentenced to five years’ imprisonment.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has hailed the Royal Assent, which is granted by the Governor General of Canada.
In a Twitter post he said, “It’s official: Our government’s legislation banning the despicable and degrading practice of conversion therapy has received Royal Assent — meaning it is now law LGBTQ2 Canadians, we’ll always stand up for you and your rights.”
‘LGBTQ2’ is the acronym used by the Canadian government. The ‘2’ refers to Two Spirit that is used by indigenous people. Two Spirit indicates to a person whose gender identity and sexual orientation comprises both male and female spirits.
Talking about the new law, the policy director at the Community-Based Research Center Michael Kwag Said, “This is an incredibly important step to making sure queer and trans people in Canada feel valid and deserving of full protection.”
What is Conversion Therapy?
Conversion therapy which is also known as “sexual orientation change efforts” is any form of treatment that intends to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The treatments in the sexual orientation change therapy include aversion therapy, exorcism, spiritual prayer, drug-induced treatments, etc.
Conversion therapy is cruel, unethical, and fraudulent. Now, it is mostly found in traditional communities that believe that being a member of the LGBTQ2 community is the result of childhood abuse, the absence of parental guidance. Some people even believe that it is a sin.
This anti-LGBTQ2 practice is still deep-rooted in society. In many countries around the world, violence, and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity within, families and societies are at large. Across the world, the response to curbing the conversion therapy practice differs.
Along with Canada, just five countries around the world have banned conversion therapy. The countries are Malta, Brazil, Ecuador, Taiwan, and Germany. While another four countries, the US, Canada, Australia, and Spain, have regional laws preventing the practice in some parts of the country. Additionally, five other countries, Argentina, Uruguay, Samoa, Fiji, and Naura have imposed indirect bans.
The effect of conversion therapy on the LGBTQ2 community
While 2021 should have been a year where the world made significant progress to ban conversion therapy, the pandemic has hampered progress. Conversion therapy has been condemned by many medical and human rights organizations around the world. World Health Organization, World Psychiatric Association, Pan American Health Organization, and others have called the practice “very harmful”.
Conversion therapy implies that LGBTQ2 lives are less valuable, less desirable, and less worth living than heterosexual people. The practice believes that being an LGBTQ2 person is a disorder, sin, or disease that must be fixed or cured. According to some research, conversion therapy is linked to negative mental health outcomes including depression, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts among other serious concerns.
Additionally, those whose families or religious groups support conversion therapy may feel a harmful sense of rejection.
Sexual orientation change has an ill effect on an individual’s physical and mental health. Conversion experiences during adolescence and teenage years by parents, therapists, and religious leaders are the main reason behind lower socioeconomic status, lower self-esteem, and poor educational performance.
Effectively addressing conversion therapy requires training mental health professionals to affirm a diversity of sexual orientations and gender identities. Along with this, eliminating discrimination in practice as well as the law can be a game-changer.