P.E.I. law banning conversion therapy an important message for others, says LGBTQ rights advocate
'I think that's so important because it gives people hope'
An LGBTQ rights advocate on P.E.I. says it was a little emotional to hear the provincial government pass a bill banning conversion therapy during the 2019 fall sitting.
"Sitting in the legislature and knowing that I had something to do [with it], along with the many people that helped to draft the legislation and write the legislation," said Daniel Boudreau.
"I really felt good about that because it's not about me — it's about who this legislation will help and the people who have perhaps come before me that the legislation wasn't there to help."
Conversion therapy is a term which refers to any practice — medical, spiritual or psychological — intended to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity.
A bill that bans conversion therapy for minors, and prohibits the use of public funds to provide the practice, passed third reading in the P.E.I. Legislature in November 2019 and is now law.
Boudreau had been working with MLAs in the provincial government since 2018 to bring in the conversion therapy ban.
"I just felt that this is a very important subject for the queer community and certainly something that needs to be looked at and addressed on Prince Edward Island," Boudreau said.
The P.E.I. legislation could only go so far because provinces cannot legislate criminal punishments. The federal government introduced a bill to "eradicate" conversion therapy in March that would do that.
This is the first Pride week on P.E.I. since the conversion therapy ban has come into effect.
"I think it really speaks to where Pride stemmed from. It stemmed from a movement where people were fighting for change and I don't believe that that fight ever stops," said Boudreau.
I think that's so important because it gives people hope.— Daniel Boudreau
"People see Pride a lot as a celebration and stuff now but — it is about that and it is not. It still comes from its roots so there are always people out there who are fighting for the change."
As there are different levels of protections and conversion therapy bans across the country, Boudreau said it's important to keep the issue in mind to help support those still fighting to end the harmful practices.
"Perhaps there is somebody in a very small town across the country who is doing this same sort of advocacy … and look and say, 'You know, they were able to do this in P.E.I., I can do it in my jurisdiction,'" Boudreau said.
"I think that's so important because it gives people hope."