/On conversion therapy

On conversion therapy

By Chad Ingram

Last week, residents of Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock received in the mail paperwork for a constituency referendum by MP Jamie Schmale.

Schmale has held a few of these referendums in the past, where he asks constituents to vote in order to inform his vote. Past ones have involved the issue of medically assisted death.

The issue at hand this time around is much less controversial, or at least it should be. There should be no ambiguity about which way to vote. The issue at hand this time is Bill C-6, which would criminalize “conversion therapy,” and Schmale should vote in support of the bill.

For anyone unaware, conversion therapy, as correspondence from Schmale’s office points out, is defined as, “practices, treatment or services designed to change an individual’s sexual orientation to heterosexual or gender identity to cisgender or to reduce non-heterosexual sexual attraction or sexual behaviour.“

To put it more bluntly, conversion therapy is about trying to force gay people to become straight. It’s an archaic and homophobic practice that should go the way of coal plants. Let’s be very clear – trying to change or “correct” someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity is not therapy; it’s mental and emotional abuse. It’s abuse, and it should be outlawed.

As a press release from Minden Pride reads, “This is critical to upholding all Canadians’ human rights.”

Pride celebrations have become a part of mainstream culture in many countries, but it’s important to remember that Pride events, while often manifesting in fun street parties, are about much more than fun street parties. They are a movement born out of systemic oppression and in response to homophobic violence. The modern Pride movement was born out of the Stonewall riots in New York City in 1969, members of the LGBTQ+ community fighting back against police after years of violent raids. It was only a couple of years earlier, in 1967, that homosexuality became legal in Canada through an amendment to the criminal code. Before that, homosexuality was illegal in this country. There are still countries in the world where that is the case, where homosexuality is punishable by death, and where gay people are publicly flogged and stoned. 

It’s all connected. While stoning and flogging may not happen here, conversion therapy comes from the same philosophical place – a belief that homosexuality is wrong, and needs to be eradicated.

Schmale should vote yes to C-6 and if he doesn’t, then frankly he should never, ever show up at a Minden Pride flag-raising photo op ever again and expect to have his picture taken.

He can also consider this column my vote on the matter.