NDP member of the Ontario Legislature Cheri DiNovo wants the province to ban so-called "conversion therapy" for minors, a practice aimed at changing the sexual orientation of youth who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transsexual.
DiNovo, the NDP's critic for LBGT issues, introduced a bill this week at Queen's Park seeking a ban on the therapy for people under 18. She also wants the treatment to be de-listed from the province's health care plan, so taxpayers aren't supporting it.
"I think most Ontarians would be shocked to know we're paying for this, never mind that it's still going on," DiNovo told CBC Radio’s Metro Morning.
"It's time to stop this," she said. "It really is abusive practice."
"We know it leads to depression. We know it leads to suicide. It must be stopped."
DiNovo notes that California recently banned the same therapy, which has been widely condemned by psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers.
Erika Muse, a transgender woman living in Hamilton, underwent conversion therapy after coming out at age 16. She said it almost drove her to take her own life.
"I did not receive the treatment I had asked for," she said. "I was relentlessly criticized about my gender presentation and instead told I needed to be a better man to fix myself."
The process led to years of deep depression, from which she is only now emerging.
Proper treatment would have made a big difference, Muse said.
"There are therapies you can do for trans people that help us get by, help us deal with the anxiety we have about our own bodies."