Last Wednesday a conversion therapy ban titled Bill C-4 was fast tracked through the House of Commons, this week Conservative Senator Leo Housakos sought unanimous approval for the bill to become law and succeeded. Bill C-4, at least for the time being, will be the law of the land in Canada.
Two prior efforts to bring forward similar conversion therapy bans failed due to both the troubling language of the bills and the fact that Canada already has laws in place that prevent abusive or forced therapy practices associated with the coercive, chemically invasive and abusive conversion therapies that have existed throughout history.
For many, like MP Garnett Genuis, a strong opponent of the bill's predecessors, Bill C-4 is a step too far. Those individuals, like Genuis, point to the serious issues surrounding some of the definitions in the bill.
Bill C-4, which was formerly presented as Bill C-6 and faced significant opposition, was rather suspiciously rushed through Parliament while Genuis was out of the country.
Why should people be concerned?
Bill C-4 renders illegal any therapy or counselling — even if voluntarily sought out by an adult — which encourages or directs an individual to reduce non-heterosexual attraction or behaviour. It also criminalizes any counselling services which may seek to assist anyone, including children, who may wish to detransition and revert to their biological sex.
This bill is not about protecting anyone, it is about control and pushing an ideological narrative.
Everyone should be opposed to forced, harmful or coercive conversion therapy; everyone should also be opposed to stripping self-identifying LGBTQ members from being able to freely seek whatever counselling they wish. This is an affront on the rights and freedoms of countless Canadians who may wish to curb unwanted sexual behaviors.
An example of now illegal therapy could include the following: A man is having a homosexual affair behind his wife’s back and seeks counselling in order to improve his family life and maintain his commitment of fidelity to his wife. A counsellor offering advice that the husband should cease his affair would be offering counselling that encourages the reduction homosexual behaviour and would therefore be breaking the law.
Bill C-4 is simply flawed in its definitions, but I suspect this was intentional. It gives unprecedented power to authorities should they wish to punish a therapist who is not ideologically aligned with them.
The other major concern with the bill is that virtually every major religion has teaching on sexuality, including gender and orientation. This bill is a direct affront to religious freedoms, as it effectively renders any religious instruction by a faith leader offered in counsel into a crime.
This is a shocking bill, and one that must be challenged.
I joined a group of folks who are waging that fight presently, including clinical experts, a woman who tragically experienced forced conversion therapy and is still speaking out against Bill C-4 and Jose Ruba, who is the director of FreeToCare.ca and has launched a peer-to-peer counselling network at BeyondGay.ca, who himself experienced same-sex attraction but was able to choose the counselling he wanted and live his life freely according to his convictions.
Please go to BanBillC4.com now and sign our petition against this troubling bill. There, you can also send an email to some of the officials who rushed this dangerous bill into law.