Canadian Federal on Ban Conversion Therapy for LGBTQ* Minors
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Section 3(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act lists sexual orientation and gender identity or expression as prohibited grounds of discrimination. While the provinces of Manitoba and Ontario, as well as the city of Vancouver, have banned conversion therapy, it is still practiced all across Canada. Canada needs a federal ban on conversion therapy.
Conversion and reparative therapies are a range of treatments intended to change the person's gender identity and sexual orientation. While many adults choose to undergo conversion therapy for various reasons, this practice is often used on LGBTQ* children and youth. This is detrimental to their mental health and overall well-being.
Common tactics include a variety of cognitive, behavioural, psychoanalytic, and other practices which can include extreme measures such as electrical shocking, snapping an elastic band on the individual's wrist, and shaming. Patients are taught heterosexual dating skills, are taught to be more stereotypically "masculine" or "feminine", and are exposes to hypnosis and medication.
Negative impacts of conversion therapy include depression, thoughts and attempts of suicide, substance abuse, social anxiety, altered body image, and other mental health issues.
The Canadian Psychological Association Policy Statement on Conversion/Reparative Therapy for Sexual Orientation reads:
The Canadian Psychological Association opposes any therapy with the goal of repairing or converting an individual’s sexual orientation, regardless of age. Conversion therapy, or reparative therapy, refers to any formal therapeutic attempt to change the sexual orientation
of bisexual, gay and lesbian individuals to heterosexual. It can include prayer or religious rites, modification of behaviours, and
individual or group counselling.
Scientific research does not support the efficacy of conversion or reparative therapy. Conversion or reparative therapy can result
in negative outcomes such as distress, anxiety, depression, negative self-image, a feeling of personal failure, difficulty sustaining relationships, and sexual dysfunction. There is no
evidence that the negative effects of conversion or reparative therapy counterbalance any distress caused by the social stigma and prejudice these individuals may experience.
The Canadian Psychological Association also recognizes that individuals differ in the fluidity of their sexual attractions across the lifespan, but does not view such naturally occurring fluidity as supporting arguments in favour of conversion or reparative therapies. As well, individuals may experience distress about their non-heterosexual attractions or orientation, due to negative internalized beliefs or external factors such as family,
religious, or societal values or discrimination. As such, seeking therapy from an LGB-affirmative or person focused
therapist is a positive step towards maintaining one's mental health.
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