Justice Minister David Lametti is seen during a news conference Monday October 5, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Justice Minister David Lametti is seen during a news conference Monday October 5, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

In pushing to amend conversion therapy bill, Tories seek to bridge caucus divide

Some members were concerned discussing the topic could become illegal

Conservatives will seek to amend a Liberal bill that would criminalize forcing people to undergo therapy to change their sexuality or gender.

In signalling their intention on Monday to move an amendment to the proposed law, the party also showcased efforts to bridge the gap between their social conservative base and the more moderate MPs in caucus.

Leading off the Conservatives’ formal response on the second-reading debate for Bill C-6 was Conservative MP Eric Duncan, who is openly gay.

He called conversion therapy a “terrible, inhumane, dangerous practice” that needs to come to an end.

But before he rose, the MPs who had posed the first questions to Liberal Justice Minister David Lametti were from the party’s socially conservative wing.

They raised their concerns the legislation goes too far and would make it illegal for, among other things, religious leaders or parents to talk to kids about the issue.

Duncan said Monday the party will seek to amend the bill to ensure that the government’s stated intent — that the bill not criminalize conversations — will be explicitly reflected in the law.

In his speech, Duncan related his own story of coming out in 2017 and how he was greeted with support and love.

That is not always the case, he said, highlighting the stories of two men who died by suicide after years of struggling with their own sexuality.

Parliament must ensure the bill passes to send an important message, he said.

“It is OK to be gay. It is OK to be trans. It is right for them to live their lives as who they are and be who they are,” Duncan said.

“Canadians know that subjecting anyone to conversion therapy is wrong and we must protect those who are vulnerable.”

If passed, the law would ban conversation therapy for minors and also outlaw forcing an adult to undergo conversation therapy against their will.

The bill would ban removing a minor from Canada for the purpose of undergoing conversion therapy abroad. It would also make it illegal to profit from providing the therapy and advertising to provide it.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole has said the eventual vote on the bill will be a free vote for Tory MPs, as it is a matter of conscience. It’s a follow through of a promise he made during the leadership race he won, a victory attributed in part to the influential social-conservative voting bloc within the party whose support eventually went to him.

On Monday, Conservative MP Cathay Wagantall — who is sponsoring a private member’s bill to ban sex-selective abortion — said the bill restricts freedom of choice and expression for Canadians, including LGBTQ2 individuals.

She cited the case of a woman who had undergone transition and regretted it, suggesting the bill would criminalize her ability to speak out about her experience to warn others of the consequences.

Also on his feet was failed leadership contender Derek Sloan, who had made an assertion the bill would criminalize conversations between parents and their children an element of his leadership campaign.

On Monday, he raised concerns the bill, as written, would criminalize prayer.

The Liberals have insisted the bill does not criminalize ordinary conversations that are meant to provide guidance to those questioning their gender or sexuality.

“What we are banning is a practice,” Lametti said in response to Sloan.

“There is a great difference whether one is in discussion or whether one is praying. There is a great difference between trying to determine who someone is on the one hand and telling someone that who they are is problematic or wrong, and then trying to change it to something else.”

The Liberals have not declared definitively whether they’ll make the vote free for their MPs.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has said his caucus will vote for the bill, though NDP Randall Garrison said Monday he believes it doesn’t go far enough in outright banning the entire practice of conversion therapy.

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Conversion therapy banLGBTQ

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Interior Health reported 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5. (Black Press Files)
Interior Health reports 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5

Over 300,000 vaccine doses have been administered provincewide.

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen is offering home compost bins at reduced prices until March 25. (Contributed)
Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen offers compost bins at wholesale costs

Pricing offer at participating stores in place until March 25

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
36 new cases of COVID-19, one death in Interior Health

The number of active cases in the region is at 366

Mussel inspection sit set up at B.C.-Alberta border. (Contributed)
Okanagan Basin Water Board calls for stronger invasive mussel protection

Letter sets out six recommendations for environment minister George Heyman to consider

About 50 people gathered Friday, March 5, 2021 in Penticton to protest city council’s decision to close a temporary winter shelter. (Jesse Day - Western News)
WATCH: Protest over Penticton shelter draws large crowd

People are gathering in Gyro Park to protest the closure of a winter shelter

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

Paramjit Bogarh, connected to the murder of his wife in Vernon 35 years ago, has been relerased on full parole, one year after he was sentenced to five years in prison for accessory after the fact. (Contributed)
Full parole for ex-Okanagan man who helped wife’s alleged killer escape

Paramjit Bogarh pleaded guilty to accessory to murder after helping brother flee Canada

The Princeton Traditional Music Festival, normally held in August, was denied a grant due to COVID. (File photo)
COVID makes some of the 2021 grant decisions for Princeton council

Municipality doles out funds while striving to meet policy

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

Most Read