The BC Government is calling on the federal government to ban conversion therapy.
Representatives from the provincial government urged David Lametti, federal Minister of Justice, to add conversion therapy to the Criminal Code.
Conversion therapy or reparative therapy uses “dangerous and discredited practises that falsely claim to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression,” states the Human Rights Campaign.
The letter, signed by Spencer Chandra Herbert, MLA for Vancouver-West End, Attorney General David Eby, and Health Minister Adrian Dix, states that the Province of BC “unreservedly reject[s] conversion therapy as nothing more than ignorance and prejudice disguised as a medical treatment.”
“We therefore call on the federal government to amend the Criminal Code to cover the full range of this [sic] circumstances that this practice occurs. Conversion therapy is hateful and harmful and therefore should be a crime in Canada. People across British Columbia have been clear that they will not stand for this dangerous practice taking place in our province.”
According to the letter, conversion therapy is prohibited BC’s public health care system.
“Health professionals are prevented from offering the service and billing for it and any regulated health professional found to be doing so would be referred for inquiry and potential discipline by their regulatory college,” reads the letter.
“If someone were to bill for it under a different billing code, this would be considered fraud.”
The letter comes as a response to Lametti’s own letter, which he sent out to provincial governments in June, calling on leaders to end conversion therapy in their provinces.
“We are concerned about the harmful effect of the message that someone’s sexual orientation is abnormal, and that it can and should be changed,” wrote Lametti in the letter addressed to BC’s Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, Mike Farnworth.
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“Research tells us that therapy or practices promoting that message have the potential to harm the individual receiving it. We are also mindful that these practices are damaging to the LGBTQ and two-spirit communities more generally.”
Lametti went on to say that the federal government was “actively examining potential Criminal Code reforms to better deter this discredited and dangerous practice.”
“The federal government is committed to doing everything within its jurisdiction to combat conversion therapy,” he added.
In June, the BC Green Party announced it was tabling legislation to ultimately ban the practice of conversion therapy in the province.
The legislation prohibits the practice of conversion therapy for anyone under age 19 and BC’s Medical Service Plan being charged for conversion therapy practices. It does not limit access to gender-confirming surgery or legitimate counselling and support services.
Last summer, following a motion put forth by former city councillor Tim Stevenson, Vancouver officially banned businesses in the city that practice gay conversion therapy, after a unanimous council vote.
With files from Eric Zimmer