What is ‘Conversion Therapy?’
Conversion therapy, sometimes referred to as reparative therapy or the ex-gay movement, is the pseudoscientific practice of trying
to change an individual’s sexual orientation from queer (used here as an umbrella term for members of the LGBTQ+ rainbow)
to heterosexual using psychological, physical, and/or spiritual interventions. Examples of this range from ‘talk therapy,’
to, on the extreme end, rape. Historically, lobotomies and electroshock treatments were utilized, among others.
Why is conversion therapy harmful?
The practice of conversion therapy is seriously harmful to persons and is opposed by the Canadian Psychological Association,
the World Health Organization, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Medical Association and others. The United
States Surgeon General David Satcher in 2001 issued a report stating that “there is no valid scientific evidence that sexual
orientation can be changed.” Beginning November 2011, ‘Beyond Ex-Gay’ partnered with its global network of survivors in
order to study and document the abuse and unprofessional counseling tactics of conversion therapy. More than 400 survivors
shared how their experience(s) damaged their social, emotional, financial, spiritual, and sexual health and wellbeing.
How does conversion therapy still legally take place in Canada?
To date, only the provinces of Ontario and Manitoba—by legal statute and health regulation, respectively—have made any
effort to ban conversion therapy in Canada. The City of Vancouver, in early 2018, also banned the practice within city limits,
becoming the first Canadian city to do so.
What are you doing to stop conversion therapy?
We have launched ‘The YQueerL Conversion Therapy Caucus,’ to lobby both the provincial and federal governments to ban
conversion therapy for minors. This is a joint partnership between The YQueerL Society for Change, and the Lethbridge Public
Interest Research Group.
Why are you advocating for a ban on conversion therapy for minors, instead of an overall ban?
In Canada, we have been given many freedoms to do as we please, provided it does not cause harm to others. While we would
discourage conversion therapy, in any form to any individual, we cannot limit individual freedoms once one is above the age of
majority. A ban for minors allows for protections to be put into place guarding one’s’ rights to gender identity and expression,
and allows for appropriate repercussions to attempts to change them.
What is the difference between provincial versus federal bans?
While provinces can ban conversion therapy through the appropriate ministry, they cannot criminalize it. Both provinces that
have already banned it show this; Ontario banned it as an non covered expense for insurance, and Manitoba banned it in its
healthcare system. This does not necessarily stop the practice from occurring, but rather limits it as far as funding and who is
able to provide this ‘service.’ A federal ban could criminalize the practice, making it illegal to carry out, as well as impacting
the ability to send children to another country for the practice.
What can I do to help?
To assist in banning conversion therapy in Canada, we strongly encourage you to sign our petition to the federal government,
listed at the end of this page. If you have already signed a petition online, please sign ours as well. Provincial governments do
not recognize online petitions, and the federal government only accepts them through the website we have linked here. We also
encourage you to reach out to both the federal government, as well as your provincial/territorial governments.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions/concerns, via the YQueerL Facebook page.
Sign the Petition at: