British Columbia

Legislation to ban conversion practices tabled in B.C. Legislature

The B.C. Green Party has tabled legislation that would ban conversion practices across the province.

Law would penalize anybody who tries to administer so-called treatments

A white woman with chin-length brown hair is shown from the chest up, speaking into a microphone in front of a British Columbia flag.
Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau pictured in 2020. Furstenau on Thursday tabled legislation that would, if passed, ban conversion practices across the province. (Michael McArthur/CBC)

The B.C. Green Party has tabled legislation that would ban conversion practices across the province.

The legislation introduced Thursday would prohibit any attempts to forcibly change another person's sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression, penalizing anybody who tries it.

"Many conversion practices are targeted to young people and have devastating and lasting effects on their mental well-being. This bill would protect the LGBTQIA2S+ community from the harms of these false treatments," Leader Sonia Furstenau wrote on Twitter after tabling the legislation herself.

Conversion therapy is the discredited practice of forcing people to undergo any treatment aimed at altering sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. It is also known as "reparative therapy" or "aversion therapy."

The B.C. Ministry of Health has described it as an unethical, "terrible, abusive practice" not supported by science.

The Greens brought forward the first iteration of the bill in 2019, but it only applied to people under the age of 19. It did not reach second reading.

A statement from the party Thursday said the new legislation includes both adults and minors and "updates language by request of the community to better capture conversion practices and the harm they cause."

If the legislation passes, B.C. would become the sixth province or territory in the country to ban the practice. It is already prohibited in Ontario, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, the Yukon and Quebec.

"We are delighted to see this historic legislation introduced in British Columbia," Nick Schiavo, the founder of No Conversion Canada, a non-profit dedicated to ending the practice, said in a statement.

"Across the country, provinces and territories have stepped up to fight this abuse, and now it's time for B.C. to do the same."

The federal government also plans to "reintroduce" stalled legislation to criminalize the practice at the national level.

Bill C-6 was passed by the House of Commons in June, but did not make it to a vote in the Senate before the summer break and ultimately died when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the election.

With files from Breanna Himmelright