The federal government has decided not to ban gay conversion therapy, the horrendous discriminatory procedure in use in this country and around the globe, to “cure” gay persons.
A petition by advocates and letters to our government have been ignored.
The procedure is mainly practiced by right-wing religious organizations, some health “professionals”, and those vehemently opposed to equality for gay people. Regardless of one’s view, this spells blatant discrimination that leads to mental confusion, and in some cases, suicide.
In my letter to Ottawa, I joined thousands of other concerned citizens in efforts to have a total ban on gay conversion therapy.
In response, I was advised that since this is considered a health issue, it is the responsibility of the provinces and territories.
Again, I pointed to the fact that this a discrimination based on sexual orientation and must be the responsibility of our government in Ottawa. In the fall of 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rose in the House of Commons to apologize to Canada’s LGBTQ+ citizens for past wrongs against them by federal authorities.
The appointment of Randy Boissonault as special advisor to the prime minister on LGBTQ+ issues was a tremendous event that promised a healing process that would continue into the future to assure the elimination of discrimination in this country.
The LGBTQ+ community was elated by these developments, viewed as positive and inclusive by our government.
The action by our government to refuse a ban is step back from taking positive action, and in doing so allows discrimination to continue and lives be engulfed by religious, right-wing and some others, continuing a decidedly negative attitude.
The refusal to deal with this issue plays with the minds of our young LGBTQ+ folks, as well as those who do not possess the mental capacity, or the maturity, to fight this procedure, has dire consequences.
The fact remains that this so-called therapy constitutes discrimination by its very nature. Aside from the fact it has no merit and does not change one’s sexual orientation, it is a blatant attempt to alter one’s natural being because of religious intolerance, and that spells discrimination. This is a dreadful reality.
It is hurtful and also extremely ludicrous to treat gay conversion therapy as a health issue only, and not discrimination. Our politicians in Ottawa must recognize this and act immediately.
Canada has a fall election on the agenda and if a Conservative government takes the helm with Andrew Scheer, then the whole process of eliminating gay conversion therapy has no chance of passing. Many Conservative Members of Parliament have already indicated that they will not support a ban.
Provincially, we have Premier Doug Ford, Premier Jason Kenney, and along with Mr. Scheer, makes a strong case that gay conversion therapy will continue to rear its ugly head. This must not be a political tug of war, but a sensible understanding of human nature.
Our concerns stem from our politicians on centre-left, who may feel the wrath of right-wing religious organizations that not only support the procedure, but indeed encourage it.
The October election will decide if our prime minister and the Liberal government will continue, and a chance to end this discrimination, or a right-wing Conservative government that promises to continue this dreadful, on-going procedure.
A Liberal government with a prime minister, and an appointed LGBTQ+ special advisor, have decided that gay conversion therapy is not discrimination, but just a health issue, is deeply disappointing.
We must display a national, and an international leadership by condemning discrimination at the highest level. Canada considers itself a leader in equality, and therefore we must hold our government accountable to do the right thing by eliminating gay conversion therapy. We must insist on an outright ban.
By nature and with pride, we are equal, bar none. Vote to end discrimination. The Liberals remain our best chance.
Gerard Veldhoven is a former Amherst resident who is a longtime activist for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. His column appears weekly in the Amherst News. Comments and information: firstname.lastname@example.org.