Advocates pleased with conversion therapy ban, but say more work needs to be done
'I was overwhelmed and overjoyed and I was stunned'
Members of the LGBTQ community say they were happy but surprised to see the bill to ban conversion therapy receive unanimous consent Wednesday afternoon.
Conservative MP Rob Moore moved the motion to fast-track Bill C-4, which now goes to the Senate.
Conversion therapy, which is meant to change an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity, is widely discredited and regarded as a harmful practice.
"I was overwhelmed and overjoyed and I was stunned that there was so much solidarity within the House of Commons between all parties," said Stefanie Pest, a member of the Windsor-Essex Rainbow Alliance and the co-chair of the Ontario NDP LGBTQ committee.
"This is how it should happen in something like conversion therapy that is considered torture."
The mental health effects of going through something like this, that many, they choose to end their life.— Stefanie Pest
"I was very pleased to hear that this had come up so soon after the election, as well as for it to have passed so quickly," said Sydney Brouillard-Coyle, the education co-ordinator and non-binary peer mentor at Trans Wellness.
"I know that many advocates within Parliament had been pushing for this to happen."
Life or death
The importance of this legislation could be the difference between life or death, said Pest, who hasn't experienced conversion therapy herself but has listened to those who had.
"They were brutal stories. And the mental health effects of going through something like this that many, they choose to end their life," she said.
"And that is — I don't even have the words to make a situation that somebody would do that, the ultimate thing. And for what? Like, they're just trying to be their authentic selves."
Brouillard-Coyle hasn't gone through conversion therapy but was encouraged to.
"This is something that I know a lot of us have within the queer and trans community have dealt with, even if we haven't personally undergone conversion therapy," Brouillard-Coyle said.
"We are constantly told to change who we are, to hide who we are because it makes people uncomfortable, because they can't accept and celebrate us for who we are."
Hope for the future?
While this is a step in the right direction, Brouillard-Coyle said there is still a lot of work to be done.
"I'm grateful that it has happened when it has, but the reality is that this is just another small step in our fight toward creating a society where everybody can be their full, authentic selves," Brouillard-Coyle said.
"We need more protections for trans and queer folks, including stricter hate crime legislation. The reality is that hate crimes are on the rise against queer and trans people."
Pest said she hopes Wednesday's vote was a sign of things to come when it comes to human rights issues.
"I am hopeful and optimistic now seeing what happened in the chamber yesterday that we can accomplish this, and quickly too."
With files from Katerina Georgieva