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Justice Centre testifying today before Parliamentary committee studying “conversion therapy” bill

Updated: Feb 6, 2021

OTTAWA: The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms will testify today at 11:00 AM ET before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights as it studies Bill C-6’s proposed Criminal Code ban of “conversion therapy”. The hearing will take place at Room 410, Wellington Building, 197 Sparks Street in Ottawa, and may be viewed via webcast.

The Justice Centre submitted a brief to the Committee, entitled Unconscionable and Unconstitutional: Bill C-6’s Attempt to Dictate Choices Concerning Sexuality and Gender, which points out that Bill C-6’s proposed definition of “conversion therapy” fails to target abusive and coercive practices that Canadians would associate with the term “conversion therapy.” Rather, the Justice Centre’s brief warned that Bill C-6’s definition of “conversion therapy” is overbroad and dangerous, and will actually cause harm to adults, adolescents and children.

The Justice Centre explains that the Bill violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in four significant ways:

1. The Bill imposes one narrow, ideological view of sexuality and gender, which violates the fundamental Charter freedom of Canadians to have their own thoughts, beliefs and opinions concerning sexuality and gender.

2. Bill C-6 discriminates against LGBTQ persons by denying their equal right to receive the support or therapy of their own choosing concerning their sexuality, gender identity, sexual addictions and sexual behaviour.

3. Bill C-6 removes the ability of health professionals and parents to determine treatments in the best interests of children who are experiencing gender distress, and instead imposes a one-size-fits-all treatment of psychological, hormonal and potentially surgical gender transition.

4. Bill C-6 interferes severely with the teaching and practice of religious beliefs regarding sexuality and gender identity, and prevents religious LGBTQ persons from receiving support in accordance with their own religious faith. This violates the Charter freedom of religion and conscience, especially for LGBTQ Canadians, as well as LGBTQ equality rights.

The Justice Centre is calling on MPs to amend the Bill’s overbroad definition of “conversion therapy” to prevent the above harms.

Other stakeholders and citizens have also sounded the alarm about Bill C-6, and have made submissions of their own. Unfortunately some of the voices most impacted by a one-size-fits-all treatment of gender distress, namely those who have transitioned and have regretted their decision, were not invited to testify at the hearing. The Justice Centre has reached out to Detrans Canada, who submitted a brief outlining the probable harms of Bill C-6, and invited their spokeswoman to share time with lawyer Lisa Bildy who is appearing for the Justice Centre.

As they stated in their submission, “We oppose Bill C-6 because it is harmful to gender dysphoric children, and denies resources to individuals with internalized homophobia, body dysmorphia and other mental health concerns that often accompany and generate gender dysphoria. This Bill will punish therapists who try to help us, ban life-saving therapies that our members need, and force gender dysphoric children on a trajectory towards unnecessary medical risks.”

The Justice Centre shares these concerns, particularly as they impact the right of individuals to receive care that suits their own personal needs and circumstances, and not have particular therapeutic outcomes dictated by the government.

“A bill that risks criminalizing the efforts of caring parents and medical professionals to meet the best interests of a child struggling with gender distress must be amended or rejected,” states Ms. Bildy.

“With Bill C-6, the Federal Government is telling us that the only possible path for children who say they are transgender is the most extreme one, and anyone who provides an alternative approach could be charged with a criminal offence and face jail time,” says Ms. Bildy.

“The real ‘conversion therapy’ here will be the government’s funneling of young people down a path of social, medical, and potentially surgical transition into the opposite gender, when approximately 85% of them would have simply grown into their natal gender through watchful waiting,” Ms. Bildy concludes.

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