Following Parliament’s return, the federal government is taking another shot at banning conversion therapy in Canada.

A bill proposing amendments to the Criminal Code was reintroduced on Thursday, October 1, with the aim of eventually banning the controversial practice across the country.

Although Bill C-8, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, was introduced back in March, it didn’t proceed through Parliament due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, the 11-page bill is back, and officials say it could be the most “progressive and comprehensive” conversion therapy ban in the world.

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What is conversion therapy?

Conversion therapy, per the government’s own definition, refers to the practice of attempting to change a person’s sexual orientation, sexual behaviours or gender identity.

Individuals from the LGBTQ2 community are most often targeted by the practices, which encourage heterosexual orientations and cisgender identities.

The methods used can range from talk therapy and medication to aversion therapy, which attempts to change behaviours through discomfort such as electric shocks.

Speaking on Thursday, Prime Minister Trudeau described conversion therapy as an “unacceptable, discredited practice that has hurt far too many LGBTQ2 Canadians.”

What would the ban mean?

The criminalization of conversion therapy in Canada means that multiple aspects of the practice would be prohibited by law.

This would include causing a minor to undergo conversion therapy, removing a minor from Canada to undergo conversion therapy somewhere else and forcing someone to undergo conversion therapy against their will.

Profiting from providing conversion therapy and advertising an offer to provide such services would also be banned.

The new ban would also allow courts to seize or remove advertisements for the practice on computer systems or the internet.

The original bill proposed five years in prison for anybody offering conversion therapy services to children. 

If passed, feds say this could become one of the world’s most progressive laws of its kind. 

Why has it been delayed?

Although the legislation was initially introduced back in March, it was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bill was killed when Trudeau decided to prorogue Parliament, a move which put the government on hold until September 23.

Now the bill has been tabled once again, it is likely to pass through the House of Commons with the support of the NDP.

While the practice is already banned in multiple Canadian cities, including Calgary and Vancouver, and provinces, like Ontario, P.E.I. and Manitoba, passing the bill would ensure the whole country is on the same page.

"Conversion therapy is harmful, degrading and has no place in Canada," Trudeau concluded on Thursday.

*This article's cover image is for illustrative purposes only.

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