There was great talk of change at the City of Vancouver’s LGBTQ2+ Advisory Committee meeting held at Vancouver City Hall several weeks ago.
On November 23, Committee members unanimously approved the motion to prohibit the provision of “conversion therapy” services and those services that “purport to alter an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity by entities licensed by the City of Vancouver.”
The Committee recommends that City Council puts forward amendments to the City By-laws, including By-law No. 4450, to allow this to happen. By-law No. 4450 regulates how entities operate in order to “protect public health and safety” and to “protect vulnerable populations” such as youth, as well as sexual and gender minorities.
According to the report, the City of Vancouver is committed to being a safe and welcoming community for LGBTQ2+ individuals, as demonstrated by the adoption and ongoing implementation by the City and the Park Board of a Trans, Gender Variant, and Two Spirit Inclusion Policy, and the Vancouver School Board Sexual Orientation and Gender Identities Policy.
Subsequently, it defines the practice of “conversion therapy” (also known as reparative therapy). It involves pseudoscientific practices that are used with intentions of converting an individual’s sexuality or gender identity into alignment with the heterosexual and cisgender majority. And this can cause serious, lasting trauma to survivors, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
The umbrella term of conversion therapy, as listed in the report, includes everything from religious rites, to behavioural modification or medication, electroshock therapy or lobotomy. And while its practice can take a variety of forms, the psychological damage, deliberately imposed self-loathing, and other impacts can have lasting effects.
Additionally, the report states that these practices have already been rejected as baselines and listed as damaging by the Canadian Psychological Association, the Canadian Association of Social Workers, and the World Health Organization, among other national and American Associations.
In 2015, the province of Ontario adopted the Affirming Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Act to protect minors from being subjected to conversion therapy and to ban practitioners from billing it through public health insurance. In the same year, Manitoba’s provincial government passed a health regulation banning the therapy.
It’s happening across the border, too, as nine American states and 27 municipalities, counties, and communities including Seattle, Miami, Philadelphia, and Cincinnati, have prohibited the practice.