VICTORIA, B.C. – The B.C. government’s response today regarding the dangerous, nonmedical practice of conversion therapy rightfully calls for the federal government to amend the Criminal Code to fully ban the practice nationally. It also highlights current regulations within B.C.’s health system preventing health professionals from offering the service and billing for it. However, the letter from the B.C. attorney general, minister of health and MLA for Vancouver-West End shies away from tackling the full scope of the issue.
“Preventing health officials from practicing conversion therapy is important, and we also know that the majority of medical and scientific associations, including the Canadian Psychological Association and World Health Organization, oppose conversion therapy,” said Dr. Andrew Weaver, leader of the B.C. Green party. “For those outliers in the medical community, it is essential that clear regulations are in place to prevent them from assaulting youth with this treatment.
“Unfortunately,” Weaver continues, “many people are exposed to this pseudo-scientific practice by non-medical professionals - faith leaders, youth organizations, and even so-called family support groups. By trying to fundamentally change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity they risk inflicting harmful, long-lasting damage that puts lives at risk.”
In May, the B.C. Greens, alongside stakeholders and LGBTQ2+ rights advocates, tabled legislation to amend the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Protection Act and close this loophole to ban the abusive practice of conversion therapy and protect British Columbians.
“In addition to ensuring this abuse is banned from anyone in the medical field, the B.C. Green bill also seeks to protect children and youth from conversion therapy practiced by other adults in positions of trust or authority.
“Elected officials have a responsibility to support those with diverse sexualities, gender identities and expressions. We must send a clear message that it is OK to be who you are, that your elected officials and those in positions of power hear you and will act now to protect your human rights. The federal government has a responsibility to safeguard the human rights of everyone within its national borders. In the absence of that leadership, however, B.C. should not wait to protect the health and safety of our communities and our children.
“We welcome legislation from any party that will protect the human rights, health, and safety of LGBTQ2+ people by banning so-called conversion therapy in our province and hope the government will work with us to ensure any efforts to do so are comprehensive.”
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