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Edmonton MP pushes for criminalization of conversion therapy
Alberta

Edmonton MP pushes for criminalization of conversion therapy 

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Randy Boissonnault, an Edmonton Centre MP and a special adviser to the Prime Minister on LGBTQ2 Issues, told reporters Thursday that Justice Minister David Lametti is still pursuing his pledge to make conversion therapy a criminal offence.

“[International Development and Women and Gender Equality] Minister [Maryam] Monsef and I were with Minister Lametti at the roundtable earlier today, and he is committed to seeing us criminalize these behaviours,” said Boissonnault.

“The federal government also spoke about the possibility of revoking charitable status,” said Kristopher Wells, the Canada Research Chair for the Public Understanding of Sexual and Gender Minority Youth at MacEwan University. “For example, churches [and] faith communities that continue to use or promote conversion therapy. I think all of these tools are really important.”

faith communities that continue to use or promote conversion therapy. I think all of these tools are really important.”

According to Global News, the City of Edmonton issued a report earlier this month, suggesting that anything that they can do to aid in the eventual ban of conversion therapy would be “largely symbolic.”

However, the City of Edmonton acknowledges that there are difficulties with attempting to implement a blanket ban on the practice, as conversion therapy is usually done in private, and to what extent something would be considered an attempt at conversion is unclear.

Boissonnault also admitted challenges. Even with the full support of the federal government, he believes that municipalities across the country will also need to take an active roll in seeing this pledge through.

St. Albert became the first municipality in Alberta to pass a motion to ban conversion therapy in July, and now refuses business licences to any organizations that include conversion therapy in their business models, reports the Edmonton Sun. Boissonnault hopes other municipalities, such as Vancouver and Edmonton, follow suit.

Including the possibility of taking away churches’ charitable status, Boissonnault has openly advocated for removing doctors’ and other health care professionals’, such as psychologists and counsellors, health-care licenses if they do not support the ban on conversion therapy, if they openly practice it, or if they recommend it to patients.

“You can pull somebody’s licence, said Boissonnault. “You can pull somebody’s health-care licence if there’s a report in their licence. But the reason you criminalize conversion therapy is so that we stamp it out, in the basements, in the backrooms, in the places where it’s happening unlicensed, so that people know that if you’re trying to change somebody’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, you’re breaking the law and you should go to jail.”

Wells echoed these sentiments and went on to say that the end goal of this pledge will to have conversion therapy enshrined in the criminal code as a criminal offence.

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