Nova Scotia

Interim PC leader wants 'conversion therapy' banned in Nova Scotia

Interim PC Leader Karla MacFarlane urged the province to outlaw the practice of trying to convince or coerce LGBT people to embrace heterosexuality. She called "conversion therapy" antiquated and wrong.

Karla MacFarlane says attempts to convert gay people to heterosexuality is 'totally wrong'

Karla MacFarlane says attempts to convert gay people to heterosexuality should be banned in Nova Scotia. (Jean Laroche/CBC)

Interim Nova Scotia PC Leader Karla MacFarlane urged her political rivals Wednesday to support a bill she plans to introduce this fall that would outlaw "conversion therapy."

The attempt to convince or coerce individuals into embracing heterosexuality, as opposed to homosexuality or bisexuality, has already been banned in other areas of Canada.

"Manitoba, Ontario and recently Vancouver, as a city, has banned it, and I understand [B.C.] as a province they will be as well," MacFarlane said at Province House.

'We don't want that to happen in Nova Scotia'

"It's not that it's a huge problem, it's the fact it can happen," MacFarlane told reporters. "We don't want that to happen in Nova Scotia.

"We just want to ensure everyone to know that Nova Scotia is a progressive province," she said. "It's a non-partisan issue and I look forward to having the NDP and the Liberals support this."

The provincial NDP said in an email it supports a ban.

"We welcome any support for our call to ban conversion therapy in Nova Scotia," said MLA Susan Leblanc, the party's spokesperson on LGBTQ issues. "As we said last week, the NDP Caucus believes MLAs need to work across party lines in order to pass legislation to ban conversion therapy and ensure this harmful practice is not allowed."

'Increased stigma, depression and isolation'

In a statement, Health and Wellness Minister Randy Delorey did not say whether the Liberals support a conversion therapy ban, but he did condemn the practice.

"The province does not cover or condone conversion therapy or the notion that anyone from the LGBTQ2 community requires treatment because of sexual orientation," said the statement.

"We understand the concern around conversion therapy and the increased stigma, depression and isolation associated with promotion of such beliefs."

In recent weeks, two Halifax-based LGBT groups have been critical of a Bible camp scheduled for next week in Pugwash, N.S.

Pride Halifax and the Youth Project have co-authored a petition asking the Maritime Conference of Seventh-day Adventist Church to rescind its invitation to two speakers from Coming Out Ministries, an Ohio-based Christian group.

Group views homosexuality as a sin

Coming Out Ministries sees homosexuality as a sin and is devoted to freeing people "from the chains of homosexuality."

CBC News asked the church if Michael Carducci and Danielle Harrison were still welcome at their event and received a statement.

"The Seventh-day Adventist Church does not advocate specific therapies for the purpose of changing lifestyle," it said.

"We fully subscribe to and follow the model of Jesus. He challenged and overturned the assumptions of His culture about rank and status, interacting with people from all walks of life and offering unconditional love and compassion to everyone."

The Canadian Psychological Association, which condemns conversion therapy, defines it as "any formal therapeutic attempt to change the sexual orientation of bisexual, gay and lesbian individuals to heterosexual," using methods including "prayer or religious rites, modification of behaviours, and individual or group counselling."

Coming Out Ministries does not claim to offer the therapy — the group's work is self-described as sharing personal testimonials about the spiritual benefits of leaving behind a person's homosexual identity.

Read more articles at CBC Nova Scotia

With files from Canadian Press

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