Canada has become the latest nation to ban ‘conversion therapy’ after a bill was passed by the Commons and the Senate.
The new law makes it illegal for anyone to ‘repress or reduce non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behaviour’.
Critics say the law – which carries a maximum prison sentence of five years – could interfere with freedom of speech and religious liberty.
Some politicians have said it could criminalise private conversations about sexuality or gender identity between children and teachers, religious leaders, or mental health professionals.
But Federal Justice Minister David Lametti claims that those objections are unfounded.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals proposed the measure, but its passage was supported by politicians on both sides of the aisle.
The Conservatives decided to expedite the bill without changes, much to the surprise of the Liberals.
The Conservatives had been told they would be given a free vote and, as previously, around half were expected to vote against.
However, in a surprise move, Conservative MP Rob Moore introduced a motion to progress the bill rapidly through all three stages.
This allowed the bill to bypass committee stages and any other scrutiny. No opposition was declared to the motion.
So the bill also avoided a division and immediately progressed to the Senate where it was easily passed.
The move to fast-track the bill came as a surprise because 62 Conservative MPs had previously raised concerns over the bill and voted against implementing the ban in the last Parliament.
It is believed that the leader of the Conservatives, Erin O’Toole (pictured), wants to frame himself as a more progressive leader.
However, during the 2021 election campaign, the party’s platform included a commitment to seek amendments to clarify that ‘the ban does not criminalize non-coercive conversations’.
A ban on ‘conversion therapy’ in England and Wales is currently being considered by the government in London, but no detailed legislation has yet been proposed.
A similar law in the Australian state of Victoria has led to pastors being told not to call homosexual practices sinful.