PEI

Pride P.E.I. calling on province to outlaw conversion therapy

Pride P.E.I. is calling on the provincial government to officially ban conversion therapy on the Island.

'We absolutely don't want that to happen on P.E.I., so it's time that we do this,' says Peter Bevan-Baker

'We don't want anyone to think that we condone the practice of conversion therapy anywhere on the Island,' says Andrea MacPherson, director of advocacy for Pride P.E.I. (CBC)

Pride P.E.I. is calling on the provincial government to officially ban conversion therapy on the Island.

While there is no evidence of conversion therapy taking place here on P.E.I., the organization hopes the new minority government will outlaw the practice all the same, said Andrea MacPherson, the group's director of advocacy. 

Conversion therapy describes actions intended to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity, MacPherson said.

"We don't want anyone to think that we condone the practice of conversion therapy anywhere on the Island."

'Unanimous support'

A motion was made last fall by Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker to ban the practice, which received unanimous support in the House. But so far, there isn't any legislation in place to make it law.

Earlier this week, Pride P.E.I. sent an open letter to the party leaders urging them to take action on the issue.

While there is no evidence of conversion therapy taking place here on P.E.I., the organization hopes the new minority government will outlaw the practice all the same, MacPherson says. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

"I know it has happened here in the past and Islanders have been subjected to it. This is not a notional thing. It's a real issue," Bevan-Baker said.

He said he's been working on drafting legislation to ban conversion therapy since before the provincial election.

'Optimistic legislation will pass'

"You can see that all the provinces are bringing this forward and it's really important that you don't end up the last one, or else you have the potential to be the sort of destination province for people seeking conversion therapy," Bevan-Baker said.

"And we absolutely don't want that to happen on P.E.I. So it's time that we do this."

'This is not a notional thing. It's a real issue,' says Peter Bevan-Baker, leader of the Official Opposition. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

He hopes to have legislation ready to present in the fall. As for the other parties, both Premier Dennis King and third party leader Robert Mitchell said they don't support conversion therapy.

Given the support received in the House last fall, Bevan-Baker said, he is optimistic the legislation will pass.

More P.E.I. news

With files from Sarah MacMillan

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