The fact that at any point in history the deplorable act of using forced confinement, electroshocks and chemicals to create an aversion to certain sexual inclinations was acceptable is one of society’s failings.
I am opposed to any “therapy” that involves coercion, or violence. Such actions under any pretence are reprehensible and should lead to any therapist, at minimum, losing their licence.
So I had hopes when the Liberals introduced a bill to “ban conversion therapy” that they would be focused on cracking down on any act of coercion and violence.
This does not appear to be their intention however, and the Bill in its current state blurs the definitions of conversion therapy in what appears to be a deliberate attempt to use our children to play politics. Instead of clear definitions that would protect Canadians from violence and coercion, the Bill undercuts parents, pastors and faith leaders by potentially prohibiting these well-meaning individuals from having voluntary conversations with children about their sexuality.
Through my travels across this country, many parents whose children are dealing with the issue of gender identity told me they are terrified that this Bill will prevent them from providing loving support to their children. I have also encountered medical doctors that are concerned that they will lose their licence or even be subjected to a 5-year jail term if they discuss issues of a child’s reproductive future with them. They fear arrest for simply explaining to children that hormone blockers and surgery to remove their reproductive organs may render them unable to have children as adults.
The ambiguity in the Bill seems to be a deliberate political move aimed at undermining not just parental rights but their responsibility to care for their children. In addition, the Bill is designed to be vague enough that the Liberals can later label anyone who opposes the Bill as supporting the outlawed draconian practices of forced conversion therapy. Our children are too precious to be used as pawns in an adult debate of gender identity and gender conversion.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole wisely highlighted the importance of parental involvement in his speech earlier this month in the House of Commons saying “Kids need more support from adults, not less. In an age where young people are swiping and texting more than talking and connecting, we should not be criminalizing talking. Some very simple amendments could fix this if this bill is truly more than a political wedge.”
Even if we give the Liberals the benefit of the doubt and say that the failure to include an exemption to protect conversations between parents and their children was just an oversight, the Justice Minister had weeks to refine the Bill while Parliament was prorogued.
The Liberals must answer simple questions such as: what is the legislative objective behind expanding the definition of conversion therapy to include voluntary and loving conversations between parents, children, doctors and faith leaders? Why include an exemption to protect those leading a child towards undergoing sex change surgery and puberty blockers without parental consent, but not a clear exemption to protect the most important adults in that child’s life?
Ironically, the same Liberal government that campaigned on banning junk food advertisements to children because they are too impressionable to avoid the temptation of sugary cereals, believes that discussing permanent sex change procedure with your child should be criminalized.
Do they actually believe that parental oversight is needed for eating junk food, but not for life-altering sex surgery? This short-sightedness has led to a flood of lawsuits against the government in the UK, where children’s reproductive organs were removed, and as adults, they regretted the surgery. It is unimaginable that a Bill that protects children from conversion therapy would permit these permanent reproductive changes to a child without parental consent and input.
I believe that as citizens of Canada and participants in parliamentary democracy we should not fall for the Liberal government’s blatant cynical plot to use what could have been a reasonable bill banning coercive and violent therapy, as a political wedge. We should constructively propose amendments to the Bill that respect parental responsibilities, parental rights and children’s reproductive futures. There must be clear definitions of “Conversion Therapy” that will assist the courts and avoid legal misinterpretation as typically happens with vague and undefined laws.
If the Liberals fail to include parental rights in the Bill, then their ideological and political agenda will clearly be on display for the world to see. There is no place for partisanship in legislation that could cause permanent damage to family relationships, undermine the role of faith leaders, and leave doctors living in fear of imprisonment and fines for discussing a child’s reproductive future with them.
This Bill goes to the root of how much we will allow governments to control our lives. If we as citizens lose input into the safety, happiness, and healthy development of our own children, then we can expect the slow withering away of all other rights.
I hope the Liberal government will be open to working with all Parties at the Committee stage to clarify the definition of what they intend to ban, and assure parents they will not be offside with the law for supporting their children through a very sensitive, and potentially difficult, time.