Conversion therapy ban now law in Canada

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The federal legislation to ban conversion therapy practices in Canada received royal assent on Wednesday, meaning the bill is now a law, but the new criminal offences won’t be in effect until early January.

Per the coming-into-force provisions of the bill, the four new Criminal Code violations will be enacted 30 days after it received royal assent, which will be Jan. 7.

That means that in a month it will be illegal to subject someone of any age, consenting or not, to so-called conversion therapy

Under the law, this includes practices like counselling or behaviour modification that seek to change a person’s sexual orientation to heterosexual or gender identity to cisgender. It can include seeking to repress someone’s non-heterosexual attraction, or repressing a person’s gender expression or non-cis gender identity.

After the federal government tabled Bill C-4 on Nov. 29, MPs unanimously agreed to swiftly pass the bill through all legislative stages in the House of Commons without changes on Dec. 1.

The bill was then sent to the Senate, seeing Senators also unanimously agreed on Dec. 7 to pass the legislation with little debate and no committee study.

The accelerated all-party support for the bill has been praised by political leaders as well as by LGBTQ2S+ advocates, who have been pushing for years to see these new protections against the harmful practice enacted after unsuccessful past attempts.

“We did it. Together, survivors, LGBTQ2+ Canadians, elected officials and folks from coast to coast to coast have taken a huge step forward for a safer, more equal and more free country – for everyone,” tweeted advocacy group No Conversion Canada after the Senate’s vote on Tuesday. https://twitter.com/NoConversionCA

“This is a victory for Canada, in particular the bravery and the courage of the survivors who have been speaking out for years. This is what making history feels like,” tweeted Justice Minister David Lametti, who sponsored the government legislation.

“I’m glad the senators took an approach of moving quickly in unanimity like we did in the Commons. I want to thank them for their work,” said Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole on Wednesday on Parliament Hill. His party was the one to initiate the unanimous consent motions in both chambers after the Liberals made LGBTQ2S+ rights and the Conservatives’ past opposition to the bill as a wedge issue in the 2021 federal election.

Bill C-4 has now become the first bill to fully pass the 44th Parliament, and is the first bill to receive royal assent in a ceremony presided over by Gov. Gen. Mary Simon.

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